A treasured experience

The memories, friendships and overall experience that I have gained from Aoraki Bound have been truly life-changing. For me, it’s been like a doorway or safe passage into my tribes and my culture. From the origins of this journey at Anakiwa in the rohe of Te Atiawa ki te Tau Ihu, through to Arowhenua, Pūkaki and Aoraki, Aoraki Bound has shown me what it was for my ancestors to find their place within the whenua. This has brought a hell of a lot more meaning to my own existence.

Coming away from Aoraki Bound, I now want to be more engaged with my iwi and I want to bring the lessons from Aoraki Bound into my everyday world. I now possess a real desire to one day represent Kāi Tahu and Te Atiawa in the work that I do, whatever that may be. I have already taken steps to improve my te reo Māori, by enrolling in a course online with other rōpū members; and using the ‘Kotahi Mano Kāika’ kupu around the house. I’m also using te reo Māori in my rugby coaching.

Thanks to Aoraki Bound, I was given the opportunity to experience a little of what it is like to be a kaikōrero and from that small but treasured experience, I gained real confidence in my public speaking ability. I’ve already taken this into the real world by using my tauparapara before my speech as a best man at a wedding. I’ve also been teaching the haka “Tahu Pōtiki” to my younger brother, Tahu, which has meant a huge amount to me. So for that I’m truly grateful.

I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the instructors, Jorge, Anna and Rangi. These guys made the journey what it was and I can’t imagine it without them. Their guidance throughout was seamless. I could go on for pages and pages as to why they rock but I’m sure you get the picture.

The common theme of walking in our ancestors’ footsteps really resounded deeply with me and that experience alone was priceless. Learning how our people populated the land, and the seasonal migrations and the pounamu trails was an absolute buzz. However, being able to do that with a rōpū of such awesome people honestly multiplied the richness of the experience a hundredfold.

The group lessons along the way were some of the most powerful and important I’ve experienced. I’ve now witnessed first-hand what it is to have mana and to whakamana my fellow travellers in our rōpū. The actual Outward Bound content can’t be overlooked as well and the lessons from that side of the course were just as vital. The concluding half-marathon has encouraged me to run daily and I’m feeling amazing as a result. Overall, I’d like to re-iterate how amazing this course is and how silly you’d be to pass it up if you get the chance.

I wish to acknowledge Te Atiawa o te Waka–a-Māui Trust for the scholarship assistance to attend Aoraki Bound. Without your assistance I wouldn’t have been able to have such a great experience. Thanks Te Atiawa for the financial support I received to help me take up this wero and I’m happily forever in your debt because of it.

I wish to also acknowledge Te Rūnaka o Arowhenua and the people of my marae at Arowhenua for supporting me financially, so I could have the right clothing and equipment to do Aoraki Bound and for covering my travel costs to and from Rotorua. A big mihi to our ahi kā ki Arowhenua for hosting our rōpū during the latter stages of our Aoraki Bound journey too. He mihi nui hoki ki tōku Upoko o Arowhenua Tewera King for being there to acknowledge our rōpū at the end of the journey . Finally a huge thank you to everyone else in my life who supported and who continue to support me today. Tīhei mauri ora. Ngā mihi, Jordan Watson

Whaia e koe ki te iti kahuraki, ki te tuohu koe, me mauka teitei, ko Aoraki.
Seek the treasure you value most dearly, if you must bow your head let it be to a lofty mountain, Aoraki.

Jordan Watson - grateful for the Aoraki Bound experience.

Jordan Watson – grateful for the Aoraki Bound experience.