It’s Maori language week, so I thought I’d share one of my favourite Maori words—tūrangawaewae.
Tūrangawaewae is a place to stand, where a person feels strong and at home. It doesn’t really have an English equivalent. Homeland comes sort of close, but one’s homeland is not always one’s tūrangawaewae.
Though I am not a religious person, I am a spiritual one, and the word tūrangawaewae speaks to me in a spiritual way. I know where my tūrangawaewae is. It’s not so much an actual place, but a biome–the forests of the north eastern US. I am an organic part of that biome. It is wired into my nerves and muscles. Every leaf, animal and rock feels familiar.
I have little use for American culture, and no affinity with the cities and interstate highways that encroach upon my tūrangawaewae. I have honestly tried to find a new tūrangawaewae here in my adopted home. There are many places here I love. Many places to which I feel drawn. But none matches my tūrangawaewae for that deep sense of belonging.
Where is your tūrangawaewae?