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Kirihimete- and why we're looking for ways to do things differently.

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Kirihimete- and why we're looking for ways to do things differently.

As a whānau with young tamariki we've been discussing what we want Christmas to look like in our Kāinga.
Our kids don't yet have any expectations or exposure to what's 'normal' in our culture (aka pine trees, mountains of gifts, santa etc) , and so we're trying to be deliberate, to learn about where traditions have come from, and to decide if we want to participate in them.

We're left wanting of a culture that proclaims that buying gifts(more stuff) is the way we show aroha to one another .

We're despairing of the fact that the pressure to purchase means that cheap(often aka exploitatively made) +poorly made become the only real options for most whānau.
We're fatigued by an onslaught marketing that tells us to buy now, pay later, to 'show your mum you love her with....', to consume more.

Don't get us wrong, we love the excitement, the whanaungatanga, the mānaakitanga, the kai and the aroha that flows during this season.

We're trying to weed out the bits that really don't reflect our values or that we've unconsciously inherited from our culture, and instead plant new seeds of tradition in a season that at its most elemental celebrates the gift of love.

It's a bit of a heavy one, leading into this season, but we wanted to hear your thoughts on how your whānau does Christmas differently that feels more authentic to you?


We posted these whakaaro over on social media and were overwhelmed by the incredible response and suggestions some our our Aho whānui shared, so we've collated some of them below and added italics to some of our highlights!

🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 absolutely
My partner and I had a big discussion about this issue this year. We will definitely be engaging in more discussions about it when we have kiddies. For us Christmas means time with whānau. Our aim this year has been to make Christmas as cost effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. For us this looked like using cotton or other reusable material as wrapping paper. We used previously used cotton/ripped clothing/ anything that can be reused or repurposed in the future.
Another thing for us was gifts ! The perfect gift in my opinion is a library book ! It’s personal (takes a lot of thought and effort to pick the perfect pukapuka for each person & I also included a little not about why I thought person X would enjoy particular book), it’s not creating waste and it’s perfect for winding down over the Christmas period and you can just return it once you’ve finished !!! We also baked some gingerbread cookies which ended up being an awesome date night activity.

This year we’ve bought all our gifts from op shops. Right down to the wrapping paper we use (next year we’ll be doing fabric wrapping tho) we loved it so much. Not only are we reducing waste by re-using & re-purposing, but we’ve loved that our gifts have doubled as an actual gift for our whanau and a koha to charity. Baked goods in op shop jars & re-gifts have also made a comeback this year!! 😜🎄✨

To prevent the onslaught of gifts we draw a name out of a hat and each person only gives and receives one gift. Children still have Santa stockings. But everyone in our extended family who is present on Christmas Day only purchases and receives one thing from someone who has thought carefully about what the person needs.

Same page exactly with our little ones (4mo & 21mo) this Christmas. We’ve decided not to introduce Santa as such.. obviously our pepi will learn or hear about him from friends and whanau. We will encourage our sons to be respectful of other families beliefs and traditions but we will not lead them to believe in “Santa” at home. We have given more to other families this Christmas than what we have wrapped up under the tree and will make this a tradition. The only things we have bought that are new to gift we’re some indoor house plants and photo albums & photos. Most other presents we purchased were hokohoko finds. Next year we will have four stockings in our household during Christmas time; “a want”, “a need”, “something to wear” & “something to read” and everyone will have one present in each! A little tradition shared w me by a friend. Still shaping how we want Christmas to be in our household but on Christmas morning I think I will wake my babies up and share how exciting today will be because we get to spend all day with different whanau near and far. Try to place importance and gratitude based around the people we spend time with on Christmas Day and the delicious food we prepare/ share x

We are thinking all of this too.. With the 3 year old not realy knowing anything Christmas yet, and the babies still small, this will be our last very quiet Christmas. But next year I want it to be exciting and wonderful, without buying into marketing. I'm following this thread closely 😜.. As gifts this year, we had the 3 year old paint mugs, and have a family photo to give..

This has spoken to me on such a level I have no words! I have been feeling these thoughts so heavily this season, the pressure and the expectation feels so tacky and overused. I want something so much more for our whānau moving forward 🙌🏼

So happy we're not alone on this. Our wee one is 3.5 months and has no idea about all the trimmings that have been added over the years of what Kirihimete "should" look like. I feel like I'm being a bit Grinchy however values are winning so far. I've volunteered at xmas past few years and will continue this tradition of giving with your time, no cost needed. Interested to see what comes up on this korero :) great patai!

I've been thinking the same this year with our little one about to have her first Xmas. Our Whanau is made up of Maori, pakeha and Japanese traditions so will be an interesting conversation for our wee family too. But so not about over consuming this time of year. It's all about giving but I also want my baby to have a giving heart no matter what time of year it is

Great conversation to initiate. Thank you. My family are traditionally gift heavy and I'd been feeling a bit grinchy not wanting to literally buy into it all. It's nice to hear from others with similar values. ✨

This is soo onnn point 🙌🙌 every year our whanau before our grandparents passed away we would take our kids hunting and camping being from ruatahuna we would be in the bush before xmas and cum out either Christmas eve or on Christmas day that was our thing every year our kids didn't really care too much for presents or toys it was more bwt the food n whanau time lol (mostly food)😂 Christmas now is still the same just without the camping n hunting lol everyone buys simple gifts for our kids nothing outrageous or hardout we try n teach our kids to appreciate the lil things that you have n not to expect more so im very blessed to have been brought up with that tradition and hope to carry it on with our kids cos honestly Christmas is just a set up for parents😂😂😂

We have cut right back on gift giving this year, and have sourced a lot of our presents from local businesses. It’s also the first Christmas in a lot of years where the credit card has not been used, I cut it up earlier this year, and man does it feel good not worrying about that. What I am most looking forward is time off and spending it with my tame and out tamariki.



Tamara Fa'anana 
Great korero, my kids are a bit older, have most of what they need. I’m tired of their toys they don’t play with and picking them up off the floor to tidy. We’re more conscious this year, back to basics swimming, surfing, outdoor play, books! Remembering whanau and looking at old pics, experiences together - that’s what I want to install x manuia le kirisimasi aiga x love your work ❤️


Emere Leitch-Munro 
We buy a tree each year that we plant after, usually native but this year its a feijoa. Our boys bday is Xmas so we don't buy presents for anyone but him. We aren't Christian so don't whakanui tēnā taha and we are Māori so kōrero around te āhua o te tau. Papa is from Ingarangi, so we mix in a bit of those traditions still. His mum sends the tamariki an advent calendar that builds a scene each year and its a countdown to boys bday. We do get the odd Whānau gift occasionally but never individual ones as the day is for our boy.


Jessica Mollie Ensing 
As a family we celebrate solstice, and talk about the joy of having long days to build relationships. We give small gifts (kids gifts were a second hand digital camera and some Op shop pots and pans), eat seasonal food, tell each other things we like about each other, and dedicate time and space to building valued relationships. This year we ate berry pancakes with friends. We thought about getting up and going to bed with the sun but it didn't work out this year.
We definitely didn't want gifts to be the centre of the day so we tried to talk about friends coming over and eating pancakes when we talked up the day to the kids, but it is one of the love languages so we were comfortable including it along with lots of snuggles, kind words, kind deeds and quality time :)


Crystal Kire 
Our 4 kids secret santa each other...they gotta present their taonga with their stories on why they chose those gifts, their best memories from the year with that person and other feel good stuff we can think of on the day for them to add...trying to build their whanaungatanga with each other- they are awesome with everyone else!


Alicia White 

This is a hard but awesome conversation to start at the beginning- reset opportunity for us all to consciously decide what Christmas means for us going forward....we are also at the beginning of this time navigating the minefield of societal norms - working on less is more and choosing ethical gifts where we give 🤞🏽

Tuihi Trish Carre 
Hardout tautoko! I used to be that mama who stocked the base of the xmas tree lolz now... 1st year no fake tree.. used a pot plant.. made some stm puds for whanu n friends :) need to go buy my secret Santa gift 😍 its gota be unisex and must relate to nga whare tapawha
Hanna Matthews 
Handmade gifts and things bought from the hokohoko shop as gifts too. Making sure kids give gifts not just receive. Donating to charity too in gifts or kai. Having a “paati kirihimete” with a big kai and lots of whanau, so it’s not just about perehana
Amiria Hunt 
We (really I) have decided to celebrate Te Ihu o Hineraumati (summer solstice, 22nd of Dec) we still have the kai but also acknowledging the sun and sun maiden, the environment Ranginui and Papatūānuku with karakia, waiata, story telling around a fire at dusk. We still doing presents but it's something to read, wear, need, and play with (educational) . So books, clothes, wooden toy or bike/scooter, sunblock or togs. Not going overboard with it. I wrapped them this year but decided next year we not going to add to our waste and gunna try get the kids to make kono and put the gifts in there. We started off making art things and were going to do cookies for the adults, but it didn't happen maybe next year. But we finished it all off with planting a tree and visiting Whānau at the urupā. Thinking about making tree decorations with photos of our loved ones no longer here. I'm actually gutted i brought a plastic tree with lights cause my partner has hayfever. And even though I do like the whole decorating and looking at the lights, it is plastic and no good for the environment, so I'll probably gift it on next year and make a wooden tree out of drift wood or something that has a lesser impact. It's our first year of doing it like thisand i can see where we need improvement in terms of our environmental impact

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