Since writing full-time from 1990, Barry has made fifteen speaking tours in New Zealand. In 2000 he gave 50 talks in the USA, Canada, the UK, Finland and Hawaii and in 2006 he gave 25 talks in California, the UK and Germany. 2011 he gave 7 talks in California and the UK.
Farewell Blessing for Te Wairua Tapu
at Santa Barbara Middle School
Santa Barbara, California, November 2017
The theatre was packed.
Adults needed to stand and students needed to be on the floor.
People from Denmark, France, Sweden, and India filed in with parents, teachers, and students of the Santa Barbara Middle School.
Very few of the several hundred gathered knew anything of POU WHENUA, Maori, Carvings, or Haka. Even fewer had ever heard of this Chisnalwood School. Thus, all were stunned to look upon a large screen which opens with students from Christchurch, New Zealand singing, chanting, dancing with tremendous discipline, power, and authority.
The American students at this progressive school are quite used to student songs and dances and fine artwork. Nevertheless, to witness students of the same age from 10,000 miles away who have carved gateways and designed large pieces which mark the entrance to the school was inspiring. The entire room was respectful and quiet as a 13 minute documentary focused on the farewell ceremony of eight hides with South Island cave paintings etched into them, of the student arch and carvings, and of twelve “teaching poles” or POU WHENUA each several meters tall.
All of this was last together over a decade ago in the City of Omaru to be part of the introduction of a book entitled THE SONG OF THE OLD TIDES. Indeed, part of this farewell blessing and video included words shared by the New Zealand author of that book: Barry Brailsford.
It was the combined efforts of many over more than a decade to assemble, repair, and transport all of this exhibit named TE WAIRUA TAPU to Los Angeles and then Santa Barbara, California. Hopefully it will be considerably less time before this exhibit returns home to this school and to that city. More than one Santa Barbara student hopes to personally someday return this favor and bring their art and song to New Zealand’s South Island.
In these times of much chaos and confusion it was a wonderful afternoon to see such young people leading with such skill and determination and teamwork into the future. Bravo to such young people everywhere and anywhere. May their tribe increase!