What is the Most Important Thing? He Tangata

What is the Most Important Thing? He Tangata


I started my career in Mental Health support in a large old boarding that was a kind of halfway house for people needing quite intensive support. Hanging on the wall of the lounge was a wooden plaque with this Maori Proverb on it.

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing?
It is people,
it is people,
it is people.

When I first read this proverb, I didn’t fully agree with it. As a Christian, my most important thing is my relationship with God. The relationship I have with the three-fold family of God is paramount for me. Out of this relationship flows love for people.

However, what I think this proverb is saying that the outworking of your life is to be people, not money, career, fame, etc..

We can so easily become distracted away from ‘He tangata’ by all sorts of alluring attractions.

We can run from ‘He tangata’ because of fears we have. ‘he tangata’ is not safe, ‘tangata’ are like us, messy, unpredictable.

‘he tangata’ are potentially dangerous to your well being, but is being well your first priority?

Some verses found on the wall of Mother Theresa’s bedroom echo our thoughts.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

So the question will be asked of you about your life. What was the most important thing? So what is it? Leave a comment.

Barry Pearman

Image by Clayton Scott Creative Commons Flickr

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