Maori Perspectives

Wairua, Mauri and the Voice-Hearing Experience Article 2 by Egan Bidois

“You take the Red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes”

Morpheus - The Matrix

I love the movie ‘The Matrix’. Such different depths of understandings. The deeper perspective and growing realisation that the character, Neo, gains as he ventures further and further in the intertwined worlds beneath the obvious – as he peels away the onion-layers of his existence.

I am neither Morpheus nor Neo. I just like the movie.

In this article I wish to korero from a personal perspective. A perspective influenced most certainly from my own cultural understandings and learnings. Again I also wish to acknowledge and honour other people’s understandings and learnings – it’s not for me to claim this as the only one. This is but one.

But first of all, a quick language lesson:


Wairua is a kupu often spoken, often heard. Often it is used to mean ‘spirit’ or ‘spirituality’ (Wairuatanga).  It is a kupu that – much like the onion – has many layers of meaning to it.  One such meaning may be found within the kupu itself:

Wai = unique, special, unprecedented

For instance, we also use Wai to refer to a name. When we ask someone "Ko wai koe?" "Who are you?" "Ko wai tou Matua?" "Who's your Daddy?"

Rua = abyss, container

So ... Wai-rua in a sense could be seen as 'That which is unique, special, that is contained within'.

... brief tangent here. 'Wairua' can also be broken down into Wai = water, Rua = Two. Wairua = Two Waters ... Nga wai e rua.

This could be in recognition of the physical combining of the male and female 'waters' during procreation/conception that creates life and bring us into this physical embodiment. It can also be in recognition of the physical and spiritual waters combining to bring about embodiment.

However - back to Wairua = 'That which is unique that is contained within'.

What is it that is unique within us? What is it inside of us unlike any other person living, ever lived or yet to live?

There is nothing physical that would fit such a condition. But to me there is certainly something spiritual that would - YOU, your spirit, or in other terms your soul if you will. The essence of who you truly are. That constant inalienable undeniable. Spirit. Soul.


Mauri, like many kupu is also a construct. A kupu that contains other kupu. Through breaking it down a bit more you may gain a deeper understanding of what its meaning may be.

Mauri is often translated into English as 'life force', or 'life essence' of sorts.

Ma = To be connected to, bound to, linked to, joined to

Uri = Descendents. All things, seen and unseen

The important component there is the seen and unseen bit. It’s the combined consciousness of not just the physical/seen world, but the unseen (well, to most people) spiritual world also.

So from one perspective Ma-uri could mean 'Connection to all living (and non-living) things both seen and unseen'.

So, Wairua could in some ways be the *soul*, the inner-self.

So how does that fit in with Mauri? How do Wairua and Mauri relate to each other?

Mauri is the connection between the Wairua (as it exists in our physical body) and all things seen and unseenMauri is - in some regards - the way in which our Wairua relates and interacts with all things seen and unseen.  That connection is also a bit of a two-way’s a two-way line of communication.

An analogy:

Think of a Tree.  Within the branches of that Tree there is a Spider just sitting in the middle of its web.  The strands of the web spread out and connect with the twigs and such of the branches it’s secured to.  Along comes a Fly ... it lands on one of the twigs - or even brushes one of the strands. The vibrations of its landing are transferred to the strand/s of the web, and down the strands to the Spider sitting in the middle. The Spider receives those vibrations and so knows that a Fly is about.

In some ways the strands of the web are like Mauri, and the spider sitting in the middle, Wairua. The Spider does not have to see the Fly. The Fly does not have to touch the Spider. The awareness of the Fly’s existence is still there without visual confirmation, without direct physical contact.

Our Mauri is a bit like the strands, like a bit of a radar pulsing outwards *pinging* any *contacts* in the vicinity. It’s the Mauri that receives (and transmits too) 'information' regarding the seen and unseen.

Mauri is your connection. The super-highway of communication and information between Wairua and all things seen and unseen.

So how does this relate to the Voice Hearing experience (and associated experiences) from a cultural and personal perspective?


I once had an old Triumph 2000-TC sedan. Some of you may be familiar with them. Fantastic pieces of British motoring. 2lt straight-six, twin carbs, 4-speed manual with selectable Overdrive. Yeah baby – the bees-knees … when they went properly anyway.

I had a friend, an old English bloke who was quite the backyard mechanic when it came to British vehicles.  Any time I needed a tune-up I’d take it around to his place and we’d share a box of beer as he worked his magic.  He didn’t use many tools – if any. His main tool-box consisted of a few spanners, the odd screwdriver, an amazing set of ears and his own touch.

He’d start my car up, lift the bonnet, crack open a beer and just listen.  Occasionally he’d make knowing ‘Hmmm’ sounds as he popped his head into the engine bay with an intense listening look on his face. Now and then he’d lay his hand on the engine here and there, tilt his head, listen some more and emit another one of his knowing ‘Hmmm’ sounds.  After 5-10 minutes he’d turn off the motor and tell me my cars ignition was out hmmm maybe three degrees, the jets of the carbs were slightly choked and the #4 cylinder spark-plug needs a clean up and a quick regap.  Out would come a few tools, he’d adjust what he said, crank the motor back up and it’d purr like a kitten again.  Just in time for another beer.

This old guy certainly had a wealth of knowledge – he also had some bionic ears or something, as he could *hear* every movement, every nuance of that motor. His awareness of the interconnected nature of every mechanical component and how each bit affects the others. Amazing.

Some people – for whatever reason – are attuned.

Attuned to mechanics like this guy, attuned to colours and forms like an Artist, to sounds and beats like a Musician, to tastes and textures like a Chef.  Their internal processing is informed by their extraordinary hearing, touch, taste, sight and smell – senses that are attuned at a level beyond most.  Some learn to attune and fine-tune those senses – some are just born with a little head start.

To me the Voice Hearing experience is like that.

It’s no more abnormal or any more special than a great set of ears, or eyes, nose, mouth or hands. All it is – for me personally – is information being delivered to my own internal processes.

How is it delivered?


What is it delivered to?


Why is it delivered?

Well…that’s a whole different kettle of fish right there.

For me the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ are easy. Those two elements are just the top two layers of the onion.  They happen all day every day. Always have. Like the sunrise and sunset.

It is the ‘Why’ element that is far more fluid and flexible. Personally it is the ‘Why’ element that brings ease or dis-ease.


“Our only hope, our only peace is to understand it; to understand the why.

Why is what separates us from them … you from me.

Why is the only source of power; without it, you are powerless.”

The Merovingian – Matrix Reloaded


Heoi ano, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa e oku Rangatira.

Ma te Atua, ma nga tipuna e awhi e manaaki.

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Kia tau te rangimarie.