They’re high-ranking black belts in the world of Kyokushin karate, a Japanese martial art.
Duayne Davies (sixth dan) and wife Penita (fifth dan) from Hamilton are also successful business people, who’ve run their Davies Kyokushin business for more than 20 years.
The pair’s commitment to karate saw them offer Zoom classes during the COVID-19 rāhui. They were also passionate during lockdown about serving other groups they are part of, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and whānaunga. As volunteers they were involved in distributing kai and other care packages.
But perhaps the most important of their roles is being parents to six children.
It’s parenting and leadership – and how to do this even better - that has been the focus of their current participation in the two-year He Waka Hiringa Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Duayne (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Hineuru) is exploring “a father’s strategy in the art of war and peace” while Penita (Hamoa) is looking at “a mother’s oneness”.
“I’m looking at me as a Māori father in New Zealand,” says Duayne, who adds that he previously tended to focus on Japanese ideas and philosophies as part of his immersion in the world of karate.
“He Waka Hiringa has brought me back to looking at my indigenous knowledge in the realms of both war and peace,” he says.
His studies include pre and post-colonial Māori fighting strategies, as well as peaceful resistance tactics such as those employed at Parihaka. The personal strategies he uses as a leader and father in both the karate dojo and at home are also being looked at, along with the question of when is the right time to be assertive and when is it best to take a “peaceful” and nurturing approach.
These studies and the rāhui have helped him think hard about the role of leaders and parents in doing service. “If people can’t fend for themselves we have to pick up the slack and do things for them,” says Duayne.
He draws inspiration from traditional Māori leaders, such as his tribal tipuna Kahungunu who he says was both a warrior and someone who sought to be of strong service to his people.
“I have been looking at the multi-faceted skills, in war and peace and in other circumstances, that a father and a leader needs, within a Māori context.”
Meanwhile, Penita, has focused on the issue of striking a balance between the demands of career, sport and motherhood, including her experiences from being a mum in her teens through to being a grandmother now.
“There are different roles and responsibilities which go with each stage. Doing the degree has helped me understand, record and articulate those stages in a way that I can share that information.”
The proud Samoan says her studies have affirmed the validity and mana of her home country’s traditional mothering practices: “I think I find through my Samoan side that it’s where I gain a lot of strength.”
On how involvement with karate has influenced her parenting, Penita says she draws on the sport’s traits of “toughness, endurance, disciplined practice and perseverance”.
One of the key benefits of her study she says will be that “it will help give my children a better understanding of me as a mother and how that knowledge can be used as a tool for them in their parenting”.
It seems very clear that He Waka Hiringa studies will help Duayne and Penita use their indigenous knowledge further for the benefit of themselves and their various personal, sporting and community whānau.