Turangawaewae | Issue 20

Your Place to Stand

Where is your turangawaewae, your place to stand? The place where you feel a sense of community and belonging and identity; where you feel most loved, valued and supported; where you feel ďat homeĒ? Where is it?

For some itís a physical place: a mountain, river, beach, or lake. Perhaps itís the place you were born, either here in NZ or somewhere overseas. Regardless of where you are in the world, it doesnít move or change. It serves as an anchor. It keeps you strong. For others, turangawaewae is a more portable reality. Thereís a searching and, hopefully, finding that happens with each new location we find ourselves in.

You may have unconsciously done this when you first arrived to study at Otago. Homesickness is the normal, and usually temporary, response to a loss of connection and relationship, and most of us have felt it in some shape or form. Finding your new turangawaewae resolves this crisis. Some find it in their College of Residence, a new group of flatmates, or their classmates. Others find it in groups that share a common faith or worldview, be they Christians, Muslims, Wiccans, or Atheists. Others still find it in groups that share a common nationality or ethnicity, or groups that bring together others of the same gender or sexual expression.

What is it that such places or groups provide? Check out this list and see if Iíve missed anything: community, relationships, a sense of inclusion and belonging; a place to express who we are, our gifts and abilities; a place to grow, to have some of our rough edges knocked off; a place of connection to the ďbigger pictureĒ Ė to generations past, and a hope for the futureÖ
Iíve also observed that our appreciation of our particular turangawaewae can change in the light of life events like leaving home, graduation, entering a committed relationship, the beginning or loss of work, the death of a significant other, etc. I spend much of my time as a Chaplain on campus talking with students and staff who are negotiating their way through such events. For most, a new awareness of the depth and richness of their turangawaewae arises. For the very few who find this road too difficult or painful, the results are often tragic.

Finding and embracing your turangawaewae is an essential task. I wonder, where is yours?

Mike Wright
University Chaplain
This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2012.
Posted 5:14pm Sunday 12th August 2012 by Mike Wright.