Karakia Mutunga

Author/Contibutors: Music by Sue Mepham, Words (known as ‘The Grace’) from Te Paipera Tapu. Recorded by Andrew Harray with the assistance of Adelaide Dunn.

Key: Bb Major
Time Signature: 4/4
BPM: 96

Kia tau ki a tātou katoa
Te atawhai o tō tātou Ariki, a Ihu
Me te aroha o te Atua
Me te whiwhingatahitanga
Ki te Wairua Tapu
Āke, āke, āke, āmine

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ 
The love of God 
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit 
Be with you all
Forever and ever, amen  

2 Corinthians 13:14

These beautiful words from the Bible were written by Paul, who was known as an apostle of Jesus Christ. After a dramatic encounter with Jesus (see Acts 9:3–9) Paul preached the resurrection of Jesus, and vigorously promoted the Christian message and the associated lifestyle for those who believed. 

He had two names, Saul (a Hebrew name) and Paul (a Roman name), but as he travelled more widely, he was more commonly referred to as Paul.

In his 1st-century letters to the church in Corinth, Paul addresses real-life issues that affected the people in the church, such as conflicts, arguments, sexual relationships, disputes, marriage and singleness. And he wrote about doctrinal matters, such as freedom as a Christian, orderly meetings, the sacrament of communion, and spiritual gifts.

The Corinthian letters are strong, expressive, and uncompromising, Paul using all his study, his knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures and his experiences to appeal to the Corinthians. However, as Paul concludes his letters, his final message isn’t a hefty challenge or an emotive plea, but rather the beautiful blessing that we know as ‘The Grace’. 

This is the prayer that we use at school to finish our kapahaka sessions. In Māori, this is called the ‘Karakia Mutunga’, or the closing prayer. This winter I decided to memorise it in Māori, as I’d struggled to say it fluently. As soon as I started to learn the words, they fell into a rhythm and soon a simple melody developed around them, which has become a waiata. An ancient blessing with old, familiar words, now a new waiata in the language of Tangata Whenua. Waiata mai! 

There are three words/phrases in this karakia that have given me a better understanding of the prayer:

  1. Kia tau: settle (like mist, or a blanket gently draped)
    Kia tau ki a tātou katoa: settle on all of us
  2. Atawhai: kindness and care
    Te atawhai o tō tātou Ariki, a Ihu Karaiti: the kindness and care of our Lord, Jesus Christ
  3. Whiwhinga tahitanga: to attain/achieve unity (oneness, relationship)

For me therefore, a better wording of this karakia is: May the kindness and care of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the unity of the Spirit, settle on us all. Forever and ever, amen.

As you listen to this waiata, you will hear bird song throughout. The recordings of both the waiata and the bird song were done at the Flagstaff Community Church in Dunedin. The church is adjacent to a little awa, known as School Creek. The creek and area are currently being restored as part of a project demonstrating kaitiakitanga, the care and guardianship of the land and waterways. This project was initiated by members of the church but is also supported by other locals, including a group of children from Wakari School. The replacement of pine trees with native trees, the clearance of rubbish from the creek and pest control have all resulted in bird life flourishing in the area. Recording the bird songs around the church felt like a coming together of our songwriting and the creek restoration project.

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Karakia Mutunga

Music by Sue Mepham, Words (known as ‘The Grace’) from Te Paipera Tapu. Recorded by Andrew Harray with the assistance of Adelaide Dunn.

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