Tena koe Sally
It was such an honour to receive my own copy of Pani. I was engrossed from the beginning - and couldn’t wait to talk to Barb as soon as I finished it!
There are so many things I got out of reading “Pani”, it’s hard to narrow it down. The word “resilience" is one that strikes very much at the heart of the book for me - if there was a movie about Sally's life I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could go through so much and still strive for and achieve what she did.
But it's way more than that. In my eyes Sally is an unwitting early trailblazer for the feminist movement - her journey from being orphaned, tragically separated from her siblings, surviving poverty, abuse and rape - to become an American University graduate, founding Te Atawai Health, and mothering 8 children, is beyond inspiring.
Her perseverance, determination and optimism defy what she has endured. For me, Sally expressed this perfectly when she said: "growing up there were tough times, yet I believed and had a strong desire to achieve what may appear impossible... I felt I had a choice and priority to focus on something that no-one can take away."
Her story is also a fascinating insight into Maori culture (particularly its treatment of women) and the customs, protocols and religion that have had such a marked impact in making Sally who she is. Likewise, the insight into the world of alternative and holistic health care and the fact that her passion was ignited by the things her grandmother taught her.
I found Sally’s vulnerability and strength heartbreakingly evidenced by the revelation of her experience of rape, which she selflessly shares in the hope that it might "help others who have been hurt by and kept silent about similar episodes".
“Pani” surprised me, captivated me, educated me – and made me cry! I adored that fact that it is also a love story, her beloved George. What a remarkable man he was to support his wife in following her dreams in that generation. Sally’s realisation towards the end that "I am not a nobody" is for me both sad and beautiful essence of the book. I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to share Sally‘s journey.