Ivor | Ōpōtiki, Bay of Plenty

“In the year 2000, my mother-in-law passed away in September, we got married in October, and my father committed suicide in December.

In January/February of 2001, we had to take my wife’s mum’s mate, her spirit, back to Gisborne, to Māhia, and my dad was a carpenter. He had a long-wheel-base van, so we cleared that out. It’s about two months after he’s passed away, and we threw some mattresses in the back and made the journey over to Māhia. Going over the Gisborne hills, I crashed the van. It rolls three times. Doof, doof, doof. So, there’s my dad’s long-wheel-base van gone. We get patched up. My family comes through and they pick us up in Gisborne. They take us back to Māhia. We do the deed of my wife’s mum’s mate, and we’ve got no way to get back to Rotorua. So, our whānau were bringing us back and we stopped here in Ōpōtiki. We had a cup of tea at a friend’s house. He’s looking at me. He’s looking at the empty chair that’s beside me. He’s looking at me. He’s looking at the empty chair. I go and use the toilet, and he asks everyone, does Ivor look like his dad? And they said, yeah why? And he said, because his dad was sitting next to him in that seat.

In 2001 my first daughter, she’s born exactly a year to the day after my father committed suicide. So, that’s a bit special, and then 11 years later, I ended up living here in Ōpōtiki. Why Ōpōtiki? There are very special threads that have brought us here to this place. There’s a lot of hurt here. There’s a lot of pain that’s travelled down through the generations, and it’s primarily because of the event that happened with Carl Volkner. They were economically sustainable. They had a flour mill. They were trading with Australia, and as a result of Volkner being killed, Governor Grey sent down his army, 400 dudes, and rounded up all of the iwi here and sent them down to a reserve. Non-arable land, hilly land, and he sent them up there, and 100-odd years later, we are very close to its settlement. So, my wife is a GP, and we’re here because of the invisible threads, I like to call them, that has brought us here to Ōpōtiki.

I work as a career consultant. So, I help people figure out what they like to do, unemployed people or young people at school, I help teachers to do that as well, I work in the whānau sphere, helping whānau to move along. But I always work in the digital realm, media realm, creating websites for people, doing video production, and I mash those two together with my home life, I look after our seven-year-old and four-year-old boy, make sure they get to and from school. My wife works as a full time GP, and that keeps her busy. So, I’m taking up that role of looking after the kids, and maintaining the house. 

With my work as a career counsellor, I’d often be in one-on-one career counselling sessions with people and our conversation would go the way of spirit or wairua, and a lot of people believe that going to church, or having a religion will look after your wairua, where in fact, it’s something slightly different. In at least five career consultations I’ve had with clients, our conversation would go the way of wairua, and I’d say to them, if you were open, would you come with me to Ōpōtiki, I can pick you up in the car, I’ll take you to go and see this particular person, and he’ll be able to share with you some information that you might need to hear, and all I ask is that you act on what you’ve been told, because if you don’t, if you go resist it, good things might not happen. So, I’ve taken about five clients from Rotorua, brought them to Ōpōtiki, and they’ve met with my very good family friend, and they’ve spent time with him, and after those sessions they’ve received information from the spirit realm, you could call it which has helped them to navigate this world, and to understand their life a bit better. So, that’s a perspective on life that they would not have had before, being able to connect with your spirit and your wairua, and the other side, in order to guide you and help you through this world to.

Life is all about understanding different perspectives. That’s one way of growing, is walking in another person’s shoes, and trying to understand their circumstances, their life, and why they are the particular way they are. A lot of it is the environment. The whānau that you’re around, the role models that you have. It’s a great thing that’s happening at the moment. It appears that there’s a worldwide shift towards recognising the effect that institutional racism has had on other people, and trying to understand that in order to create a more equitable world. So, understanding other people’s points of view is very important. Where they come from, how they function in life, what socioeconomic class they might be in, trying to understand their hierarchy of how things operate. 

Wairua plays a very important role in how people function and operate in the world, and a lot of people don’t understand that wairua actually does have an important part to play in how we function. We have our mind, we have our body, and we have our spirit, and most people go to church to think that they are nurturing the spirit side, but in fact, that’s not the case at all.”

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