Ko au tenei (a few words about me)
He hiwa ra, He hiwa ra
(Draw close, draw close)
Ko Tony Bridge toku ingoa.
My name is Tony Bridge.
I was born in Ranfurly, Central Otago, Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1953.
My mother, Constance Mary, came from Invercargill, in Murihiku (Southland). She was the descendant of English and Welsh settlers who arrived and settled there in the early 1800’s. My mother was matakite (a seer) and a gifted writer. Like many of her generation, she left school and was sent out to work at a young age. [pic] She worked in a variety of occupations until she met and married my father.
My father however, was born in Omapere, in the Hokianga in Northland. Like my mother he was sent into the workforce at the age of 14, where he worked as a shepherd on farms around Panguru, until he left to join the army at the beginning of World War II. He spent most of his military service in the Pacific Islands, fighting the Japanese. When the war was over, he left the army and joined the New Zealand Forest Service. Eventually he was posted to Tapanui, in Southland where he met my mother.
Much of my childhood was spent living on state forests, and growing up amongst nature and trees. My father taught me to respect the whenua (land) and to listen to nature, to hear the world songs carried down the wind.
We moved to the city, To Christchurch in Canterbury, when I was 10. I attended school there, graduating from Canterbury University in 1974 with a degree in foreign languages and literature.
After a year training as a secondary teacher, I gained a position at Papanui High School, teaching foreign languages and English. I did this for some 30 years, finishing my career as a teacher of Art, Photography and IT.
In 2006, I left my career as a teacher to become a full-time professional photographer. Eventually the road led me back to my hau kainga (home place) in Hokianga, among my whakapapa and my ancestors, where I have my own art gallery and work as a kaiwhakamarama (spiritual counsellor).
The journey with Te kete O te Ao Marama began in the early 1990’s following a powerful moemoea (vision) in which I was instructed to begin making a set of wisdom cards of the coming age. Shortly after that, I met a tohunga (Māori shaman/healer) from the Tuhoe people of Te Urewera, in the Central North Island, who instructed me for a couple of hours and then left me alone for some 17 years.
One day in 2007 the phone rang. It was him. It is time, he said, for you to know the rest. Come and learn from me. Over the next year he instructed me in IO Matua Kore, the old Māori spiritual ways.
Te kete O te Ao Marama are the concrete fulfilment of all the roads I have walked, and all the wisdoms I have met and carried, in this life and others.
May they be of service to you.