Mauri is the life force or life essence that connects everything, even the practitioner and the Whai ora (person seeking wellness). I love the version of Mauri told to me that even a child could understand... imagine that everyone has a candle in their puku. Even a bird has a candle, a fish....the forest has a candle...our job is to keep those candles burning bright. Ma-uri literally means: BY CONNECTION. Connection to what? In Te Ao Maori, we are talking about those energetic connections to our physical world: the Terrestial realm of Papatuanuku AND the Celestial realm of Ranginui. We acknowledge the connection to each other, to Whakapapa, family, community, to ourselves, our physical body, to the ebb and flow of cycles, our intuition, our purpose, passion, emotions, creativity, vision for the future etc. When we are DISCONNECTED or out of sync, our health and wellbeing suffers.
In our the time of our Tupuna, specialised Tohunga (priests) were trained in the the knowledge of manipulating Mauri. They could revitalise, restore and strengthen Mauri, or they had the ability to diminish, damage or even remove Mauri from a living object. An example of this ability is the story of Te Arawa Tohunga Unuaho and Bishop George Selwyn. Basically Unuaho challenged the Bishop to a contest to find out whose God was greater. I was told the story by a Te Arawa Kaumatua in Rotorua but a version of this encounter can be read below:
Mauri is understood as energy that connects everything. Therefore everything is connected, even inanimate objects have a Mauri (the only difference is passive versus active Mauri). And again, Tohunga were experts at TRANSFERRING Mauri from one object to another; even from place to place, and was commonly done. In certain situations, a tribe or village may decide it was time to move, possibly due to an approaching enemy or perhaps they need to relocate in order to have access to better resources. So dismantling or even disposing of a tapu object, waka (canoe) or whare (building or house) would not be an issue as the Mauri of that object would be transferred into a stone (Mauri stone) and transported that way. With the enemy on the horizon, you may not have the time or ability to dismantle a whole building and then carry it with you. So in these instances, to prevent desecration, the building would be burned to the ground or dismantled and thrown into a lake (a friend of mine told me he knows of such remains - a fully carved meeting house at the bottom of a lake where he regularly dives for koura). On arrival at the destination a new building or waka would be built and the Mauri of the old object or waka instilled in to the new one. That way the Mauri always remained with the people.
With regards to Mirimiri and Romiromi, we are taught to work ‘Mauri ki te Mauri’. That is: “my life force joins with your life force”. For example, it is appropriate to begin with hongi (pressing of noses) where the sharing of Mauri and also Te Ha (the breath) is initiated. We seek to reinforce connections with each other through whakapapa, similar history, experience and/or background. And the more I can do it, the more I have in common with, and the more I build and enhance the healing experience for the Whai ora. And for me that doesn’t just happen at the beginning of treatment, it happens simulataneously and all the way through to the end. When we compare Mirimiri to other healing practices or treatments where Mauri is barely acknowledged and the practitioner has little regard or understanding of it. Treatment in this sense will be an attitude of: I am the practitioner, you are the client and we have nothing in common, no connection and in fact, according to our code of practice that is the most practical and professional way of interacting. From a cultural perspective, this not conducive to the healing process.
And finally, you have to practice what you preach. I see many people who care for the environment, ie; anti plastic and protest against mining, whaling etc that don't take care of themselves. And I also see people who take care of themselves; go to yoga, eat well, meditate daily and yet will carelessly dispose of their rubbish or not think twice to tip paint down the drain. I have been guilty of both. We need to be vigilant and care for ourselves as the precious vessels and holders of Mauri that we are. Burn your candle bright whanau and whenever you can, seek to help others do the same. MAURI ORA.