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        Hutia te rito o te harakeke
        Kei whea te kōmako e kō?

        If the heart of harakeke was removed,
        Where would the bellbird sing? 

        Yesterday as I lay on the sea’s surface, feeling the rolling waves sweeping their healing waters over my body, I gazed at the horizon and rested my eyes. The cicadas’ cry echoed amongst the ngahere, their song carried on the wind out towards the Manukau heads. Gracefully tiptoeing across the sky, the birds danced. And as if Ranginui could feel my pain, the heavens opened and flooded me with their tear drops. I whispered out to sea, a private farewell to a woman who’s imprint will live within me, for the rest of my life. Moe mai taku mareikura, moe mai.

        On February 20, 2016 my beautiful nan took her last breath. It was sudden, it was unexpected, it ripped at my heart and burned marks into my soul. Dawn Matata was most well-known as Ginny, Ginger (because of her Red hair as a young woman) or Dawnee. Or, to me, as my Ginger Ninja. We had our own precious bond and it was cloaked in love and adoration. Yes, we fought, argued, got hoha with each other, but my goodness did we love, laugh, joke, smile, celebrate, embrace, talk, sing, dance, create, and live life together.I was my nan’s first mokopuna, and in traditional Māori fashion, she and my papa had a huge hand in raising me. They say home is where  the heart is, for me, home was always where my nan was. She had this amazing ability to make you feel so loved, so full of worth, so special. I know she loved me, and she loved so unconditionally, because I could feel it radiate from her in every encounter.  Even when she was mad at me, which admittedly wasn’t often, she never left you feeling unloved. When I was a child, I was joined to her hip…she would tie bows in my hair, dress me in trendy suspenders (suiting her own quirky style well) and  would take me everywhere. She taught me waiata, she introduced me to Cook Islands hula and, would make all my costumes. She taught me poi, would sing our whanau kapa haka songs with me, draw with me, cook with me. She was an amazing role model.

        As I grew older, I admired and appreciated her so much more. Her art and weaving (she was an amazing weaver and helped make the tukutuku panels in our marae) were spectacular. Her way with children was inspiring. She was always so willing to pass on her knowledge.

        Hearing the stories shared about her over this past week only reminds me how much she had impacted the world. And via Facebook, it was indeed the world.

        When my papa died and she logged into social media, she had found a new lease on life. For those that have followed my career journey, you will have come across my nan. She was my biggest fan, commenting on every post, liking and sharing every photo, sending her love and well wishes to my wonderful couples and families.  She did the exact same with my friends and inlaws.
        She had so many sides to her. At times she was lovely, polite, and  pleasant. but she was also rude, told the best dirty jokes and talked about all topics under the sun (some you shouldn’t really discuss with your nana). I used to crack up laughing that with different people she would have a different way of speaking, alter her accent, alter her pronunciation of words. It was a hoot. At 78 she was still a young heart. Age was nothing but a number to her, and even though she had retired, and had limited mobility, she was the livliest, busiest, most positive kuia I knew.
        The day she passed I immediately came home to read one of her diaries. She wrote in them for years and always told us, when she died we’d all be crying ’cause she would write about all the bad stuff we might have done to her, haha. The first story I read was about my wedding. She was so articulate with words and shared the most beautiful recollection of that day. She had kept the invitation, map, favours, she was that kind of lady. She spoke of her pride watching me walk down the aisle and the enjoyment of celebrating that milestone in my life.She loved to talk, and share, and tell us all stories. I get that from her. I have so many memories I could go on for days.
        Her funeral service was one to remember. We painted her casket bright, colourful and creative, reflective of the person she was and the life she lived. We told everyone, no black, there was to be no mourning here. My nan was going out in style, we were celebrating her life. Beautifully coloured clothing cloaked the marae and chapel, and gorgeous hats were showcased (much to her pleasure I imagine).
        What rocked our family further, was only three days after her passing, her youngest brother decided he wanted in for the ride, and we had lost two rangatira within a matter of days. While their sudden passing put love and family into perspective yet again, it also served as a good reminder about why I do the work that I do and how important our jobs are as photographers.
        This past December my sister was married and both my nana and her brother attended the wedding.

        My good friend Anna Allport photographed the day and got this image. It may not be a gorgeous, windswept mountain-top portrait, but this past week, it was the most important photograph we had. It reminded me that these are the gifts, we as photographers, give to others. And my family were so grateful, we had this gift for ourselves.
        Since my nana passed, I’ve been a bit MIA, and some of you have been sending me messages of love and support. I want to take the time to say thank you. Thank you for your understanding and thank you for your messages, I know the Facebook queen would have loved them.
        And to you my nan,  thank you for you unconditional love, for your caring heart, for your beautiful nature, for the hard times, your temper and your moods, and for the good times, your smile, your laugh, and the brightness you filled this world with.
        I know you had so much life left in you, you weren’t ready to leave yet. You had plans. But I guess someone else had bigger plans in store for you.
        There will never be any words to express my love for you. So come and visit me every now and then aye, but maybe don’t leave comments on Facebook, you might freak my clients out.
        xx Qiane





        Absolutely Beautiful!

        Your Soopa Cool Nan brings back Lotsa Happy memories of My Grandma + Poppa!

        Arohanui xXx

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