“Tīhei mauriora!” is a common expression in te reo Māori. It acknowledges the breath of life, and is expressed on the pae during whaikōrero or mihimihi. It refers to the Māori creation story when the first human was fashioned from clay in the form of a wahine. The hongi symbolises this first exchange of breath between atua and tangata.
From time immemorial, we have been aware of our breath. Breathing is an essential part of our existence. It is a natural process that provides us with life-giving oxygen and helps regulate our bodily functions. Our breath is a constant companion, always with us, yet often overlooked in our daily lives. But if we take a moment to pause and pay attention, we can connect with the power and rhythm of our breath. It is a source of life energy and a tool for relaxation and mindfulness. So let us embrace the gift of our breath and let it guide us on this journey of life.
“Hā” is another term associated with breath and breathing, but can also be used to mean essence, tasting and intonation.