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World 'She is speaking out to us': Māori leader says volcano eruption was a message

01:55  12 december  2019
01:55  12 december  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 a.m. - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest. The spiritual and cultural restrictions will last until all remains had been returned to families, Ngaropo said . When that happens, he will go out again

Local Maori community leader Pouroto Ngaropo said on Tuesday the recent White Island volcano eruption that killed six people was a "sad" time for New Zealand. Lauren Anthony reports.

Video provided by Reuters

Pouroto Ngaropo stands on an ancient settlement site, overlooking the island of Whakaari, and can recall his ancestry stretching back thousands of years.

According to the M

ā

ori leader, he is connected to his country spiritually and is even connected to the volcano, which erupted on Whakaari on Monday.

"Whakaari is my connection to the ocean, to the land, and to the environment around me...we are one and she's our ancestor," the 51-year old Māori spiritual leader said.

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The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 a.m. - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest. The spiritual and cultural restrictions will last until all remains had been returned to families, Ngaropo said . When that happens, he will go out again

The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 a.m. - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest. The spiritual and cultural restrictions will last until all remains had been returned to families, Ngaropo said . When that happens, he will go out again

Ngaropo's genealogy is depicted in the tattoos etched across his face, known as 'tā moko'.

a man wearing a blue jacket: Maori community leader Pouroto Ngaropo poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters in Whakatane© Reuters/CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD Maori community leader Pouroto Ngaropo poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters in Whakatane The volcano island off New Zealand's North Island holds deep spiritual significance for his iwi - or tribe - Ngāti Awa, which also owns the company that ran tours around the island before Monday's natural disaster.

Two of the tribe's boats were out on Monday. One made it back with the help of rescuers but the other did not.

Overall, eight people - both tourists and locals - are still missing, presumed dead with seven confirmed fatalities and more than 30 others injured.

Placing a rāhui on Whakaari

The morning after the eruption, Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 am - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest.

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The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 a.m. - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest. The spiritual and cultural restrictions will last until all remains had been returned to families, Ngaropo said . When that happens, he will go out again

Pouroto Ngaropo, standing on an ancient settlement site overlooking the island of Whakaari, recites his ancestry back thousands of years, back to the volcano which erupted there on Monday. "Whakaari is my connection to the ocean, to the land, and to the environment around me we are one and.

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He uttered a special prayer that places a prohibition, known as a rāhui, barring anyone, save the rescuers, from visiting the island or fishing near the shores of the bay.

"We can't (go there) because Whakaari is in a state of mourning, her descendants have passed on and they're lying dead, still there on the island," he said.

"The rāhui protects all of those things, it protects the (victim's) spiritual right to have a proper burial ceremony."

The spiritual and cultural restrictions on Whakaari will last until all victims' remains have been returned to their families, Ngaropo said.

When that happens, he will go out again, early in the morning, to lift the prohibition from White Island.

An uncertain future

Even after the victims are recovered, many questions lie ahead for the Ngāti Awa tribe and the rest of the Whakatane community.

The small town, located on the mainland, overlooks the Bay of Plenty, including Whakaari (also known as White Island).

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The volcano island off New Zealand's North Island holds deep spiritual significance for his iwi or tribe, Ngati Awa, which also own the company that ran The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 a.m. - the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest.

The volcano island off New Zealand’s North Island holds deep spiritual significance for his iwi or tribe, Ngāti Awa, which also own the company that ran The morning after the eruption , Ngaropo went out with two others at 4 am — the time when he says the connection with the spiritual world is strongest.

Some locals are wondering whether tours - the economic lifeblood of the small community - will ever recommence, or if that chapter for the town has closed.

a man standing on top of a wooden fence: Maori community leader Pouroto Ngaropo poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters in Whakatane© Reuters/CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD Maori community leader Pouroto Ngaropo poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters in Whakatane Ngaropo hopes that the island will be returned to his iwi, with input from tribal authorities in the area so they can collectively decide its future and foster their spiritual connection with the volcano.

A spokesman for the Buttle family, listed as the legal owners of the island, declined to comment.

A court first ruled the island was privately owned early in New Zealand's colonial history in 1867.

But a report to a tribunal more recently said Ngāti Awa and other tribes had interests in the land and had probably not been able to express their concerns over its ownership to the court at the time.

'She is speaking to us'

Whakaari, also known as White Island, is pictured from a boat, New Zealand December 9, 2019 in this picture grab obtained from a social media video. INSTAGRAM @ALLESSANDROKAUFFMANN/via REUTERS© Instagram @allessandrokauffmann via Reuters Whakaari, also known as White Island, is pictured from a boat, New Zealand December 9, 2019 in this picture grab obtained from a social media video. INSTAGRAM @ALLESSANDROKAUFFMANN/via REUTERS For Ngaropo, 'Whakaari' - which means to reveal or show - was giving the world a warning, passing on a message from the spiritual to the physical realm.

The eruption, he said, was a reminder of the power of nature and humans' connection with it.

"Things are going to change and the order of things are going to be restored in terms of the spiritual domain, the connection to the environment...and our connection to each other, so it’s a very important message...Whakaari is speaking out to us."

Anxious wait for NZ eruption families .
Family representatives have travelled to within a kilometre of New Zealand's White Island to be near the bodies of their loved ones.Others sang Amazing Grace.

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