Te Ao Hou – Weaving indigenous identity back into Ōtautahi: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

It was a chilly, damp, blustery and all-over a very Christchurch kind of day on Friday. Sheltered in the foyer of the Piano was a small and well-wrapped group of people, both long-term locals and people visiting just for the weekend, waiting for our 90 minute tour of the central city with Joseph Hullen (Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāti Hinematua). I was really looking forward to it – I love finding out the stories behind a place, how human histories are represented in art and design. Joseph, and Ōtautahi – did not disappoint. The work that Matapopore has put into Ōtautahi Christchurch is incredible.

We started the tour in Victoria Square, near the site of Puari, a Waitaha Pā. The square was later known as Market Square after colonial settlement, and Joseph talked about the European design of the square and how it’s a bit… higgledy-piggledy (my word there, not his). Queen Victoria faces toward a building that isn’t named after her, faces away from a street that is named after her, and the closest figure to her is James Cook, a man she shares no whakapapa with. Their life spans never even crossed over.

In 1857, Ngāi Tahu rangatira, Matiaha Tiramōrehu, wrote a letter to Queen Victoria calling “That the law be made one, that the commandments be made one, that the nation be made one, that the white skin be made just as equal with the dark skin.” These words, and more from his letter, now adorn the tall windows of the Hereford Street entrance of Te Hononga, the Christchurch Civic building. A lovely link between Victoria Square and the Council building.

Joseph Hullen surrounded by the group who attended Friday’s walking tour of the city, in front of Tūranga.

Our second stop was our very own Tūranga, the new Central Library. Joseph told us the story behind the naming of the building as he explained the artwork carved into the stone above our heads. Tūranga was the place that Ngāi Tahu ancestor Paikea landed in Aotearoa, after his journey from Hawaiki on the back of a whale. It is a fitting name for a library – a repository of knowledge – as Paikea bought with him all the wisdom and knowledge from his homeland. The art on the side of Tūranga represents migration stories, and the pathways that bring people from all over the world to our shores.

Another thing to note, when standing directly under Tūranga and looking up at the building, is how ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE it is! Phwoar!

Joseph Hullen speaks to the Kirihao – Resilience sculpture in the Pita Te Hore Centre

Next we ventured down toward Te Hononga on Hereford Street to see Matiaha Tiramōrehu’s words on the windows, and explored the art and the rain gardens across the road at the Pita Te Hore Centre, where the old King Edward Barracks used to stand. Before the barracks, it was at the edge of the Puari Pā site. Joseph drew our attention to the banks of the river and the fact that the side we stood on was higher ground than the other – a very sensible place to build as it was much safer when the river flooded!

There’s a lot to see in the Pita Te Hore Centre, the landscaped courtyard in the centre of the office buildings is gorgeous. The stormwater is all treated on site in the rain gardens which are full of native plants. A moving sculpture, called Pupu Harakiki, commemorates Lisa Willems who died in the 2011 earthquake. Another sculpture, Kirihau – Resilience, speaks of the kaha – the strength and resilience of the tuna – the long finned eels – to adapt to their environment and it acknowledge the durability and adaptation of the people who live here as well.

The tiles under our feet are laid out in a poutama pattern – it looks like a series of steps, climbing toward excellence. The pattern also represents the pathway that the local soldiers took during World War One – out of the King Edward Barracks, across the river, toward the train station, over to the port at Lyttelton, and off to war.

This Christchurch City Library tukutuku panel, Poutama, shares the design with the tiles of the Pita Te Hore centre. Image reference: Poutama, tukutuku panel-04.

We followed the same path as the soldiers across the river (although there is a bridge there now – the soldiers at the time trudged across the water), across the Bridge of Remembrance. In front of the bridge is one of the series of 13 Ngā Whāriki Manaaki – woven mats of welcome. This one, Maumahara, remembers the men and women fallen in battle. Images of poppies are woven into the pattern that represents the march to war, and the journey after death to the spiritual realm.

Joseph talks about the Maumahara – Remembrance tiles near the Bridge of Remembrance

Next we stepped down toward the river where little tuna were poking their heads out from beneath the steps, drawn out by Joseph’s tempting fingers on the water. This whole area was a mahinga kai – a food gathering place – rich with tuna. This started a discussion among the group about sustainability – you get heaps more protein and calories from an acre of tuna than you could ever get from an acre of cows, and farming tuna is much better for the environment than farming cows.

Onward we walked to Hine-Pāka, the Bus Interchange, where the artwork on the ground in front of the entrance understandably represents navigation. Joseph drew our attention upwards too. Ngā whetū, constellations used for navigation, adorn the ceiling.

From the exchange we looped up Manchester Street, where the high density housing in the East Frame is going in – and the greenery around it in the Rauora Park. There’s also a basketball court and climbing frame – places to play are a vital part of any residential area.

Finally we heading back past Tūranga for a group photo, then back to the Piano where members of the group thanked Joseph with a waiata, a moving close to a really brilliant tour.

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Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby: Not sir by chance

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby was given a knighthood for his service to Māori on this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He is known by many names: Papa Hec to some, Hector to others. And now Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby. You may not have heard of him but it is a name you should know.  His name is known all over the Pacific for his huge contributions to the revitalisation of celestial navigation, as a master carver, Te Rarawa elder, a font of cultural knowledge, for the revitalisation of waka building and waka hourua (double-hulled boat), as kaitiaki of Waitangi waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, and as he man responsible for the first return journey of Māori to Rarotonga by traditional methods after more than 600 years.

In February, I was extremely lucky to attend ACE Aotearoa’s Hui-Fono (an annual conference for Pasifika and Māori educators working in the Adult Community Education space) in Te Tai Tokerau – the Far North where we got to hear Sir Hec speak at his beautiful home in Aurere. Turning onto the Doubtless Bay Road after Te Awanui if you are heading north, you drive a few kilometres to the turn off to Aurere. There is no sign. Just a bridge that leads to a dirt road. Our two coach buses crossed that bridge, and although we couldn’t see the bridge under our bus we were assured that it was safe as Papa Hec was a bridge builder before he retired to carve waka and learn celestial navigation.

About two kilometres up the dirt road, we came to a clearing. A grassy hill, bordered by a warehouse, a carved whare, a waka hourua resting under a tarpaulin, and a house that had been extended several times looking out onto the expanse of the Doubtless Bay Sound.

On top of the emerald green, grassy hill was a ring of pou. And inside the ring was a group waiting to welcome us on. Papa Hec sat in the middle on a seat next to his golf cart. The scenery was breath taking. When Papa Hec began to speak his reo was so fluid, initially our group of over 100 sat far away from him. But as his sharing continued we crept forward mesmerised by his kōrero, and even when the Northland skies decided to sprinkle us with rain we still sat there listening intently.

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting next to his golf cart
Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting in his special chair next to his golf cart

The circle that we sat inside was actually a compass. Each of the 32 pou, set 11 degrees apart represented a direction, and when he began to swivel in his chair we realised that through his own design Sir Hector had manufactured a seat centred in the middle of his compass, complete with adjustable sights to study the night sky. It was here that Sir Hec began to study celestial navigation guided by Master Navigator Mau Piailug who came to stay with Sir Hec at Aurere to teach wayfinding and navigating using the sun, stars, clouds, other indicators of nature, and the importance of finding true north.

32 pou on a hill at Te Aurere
32 pou on a hill at Aurere

I came away from Aurere, the lucky winner of a copy of Sir Hec’s biography written by Jeff Evans. I devoured that book, hungry for more and inspired by the ability of our ancestors to traverse the largest ocean in the world with ease. The things that are shared in that book made me realise that our hour with Sir Hec shed very little light on his amazing achievements and contribution to navigation worldwide.

Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography
Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear such a man speak in person at his beautiful home in Te Tai Tokerau, and we as a community that spans the Pacific Ocean are immensely grateful for your efforts and willingness to share your knowledge and inspiration to find our true North.

Thank you Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Ngai-Iwi Busby.

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Jan-Hai
Libraries Learning Specialist

Podcast – The New Zealand Wars

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

28 October 2017 marks the inaugural national commemoration of the New Zealand Wars. Pita Tipene, an iwi representative on the commemoration Advisory Panel (Te Pūtake o te Riri | Wars and Conflicts in New Zealand Fund), and historians Lloyd Carpenter and Edmund Bohan, discuss the Wars, their significance for the country in terms of national identity and Te Tiriti of Waitangi, and the importance of remembering.

Part I: What were the NZ Wars?; Does it matter how we label them (NZ Wars vs Land Wars vs Māori Wars vs Sovereignty Wars?; NZ Wars and national identity
Part II: How have the Wars previously been acknowledged?
Part III: 2017 commemoration – Why now? What will occur?
Part IV: Looking forward to possible outcomes of commemoration

Transcript – NZ Wars

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Fortifications of the New Zealand Wars Cover of The New Zealand Wars: A brief history Cover of Landscapes of conflict Cover of Sleeps standing - Moetū Cover of The great War for New Zealand Cover of The origins of the Māori wars Cover of Wars without end Cover of The New Zealand Wars Cover of The New Zealand Wars Cover of Sacred soil Cover of Two peoples, one land Cover of Tribal guns and tribal gunners

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Living by the moon: Wiremu Tāwhai’s legacy

Cover of Living by the moonLiving by the Moon – Te Maramataka o Te Whānau-a-Apanui

In 2014 this amazing little book was released. Beginning it’s life as a MA thesis at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Sadly Pāpā Wiremu passed away before the book was published however with the kind permission of the Tāwhai whānau it was published by Huia publishers. It is a wealth of information for old and young, Māori and non-Māori.

The following is a review I wrote for Te Karaka edition #61 Kahuru 2014 (and reproduced by permission here)

Ko te Kuti, ko te Wera, ko te Haua, e ko Apanui…!

Every now and then you get the opportunity to read a book that not only leaves you feeling privileged to have read it, but more importantly, wiser for having done so. Living by the Moon – Te Maramataka o Te Whānau-a-Apanui is one such book.

Written by the late Wiremu “Bill” Tāwhai, a well-respected kaumātua of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Whakatōhea and Ngāti Awa, it is a collation of Te Whānau-a-Ruataia inter-generational knowledge pertaining to Te Whānau-a-Apanui lunar calendar. Long before shopping malls, smart phones, “Uncle Google”, and social media, our tipuna planned their lives by the lunar calendar. Every iwi had one. Knowing the lunar cycle, understanding how it affects your environment, and your competence to analyse and interpret correctly those effects, determined your ability to hunt, grow, and gather food. Thanks to Wiremu’s natural skill as an orator, this knowledge is conveyed in a way that is not only easily understood but leaves the reader feeling as though they are sitting with him. It took me back to a time when I was young and would sit with my own father listening to tribal kōrero.

Sadly, Wiremu Tāwhai died on 2 December 2010, before his book, which began as his MA thesis for Te Whare Wānanga o Te Awanuiārangi, was published. However, he left various legacies for future readers within his text. These included the consideration of what is to become traditional wisdom and knowledge such as the maramataka, reminding us of their importance “to sustain a healthy environment for the enjoyment of generations to come.” Encouraging words for all Māori to research their tribal knowledge, build tribal repositories, and openly share this knowledge among tribes and internationally with other indigenous nations.

His final words are for his people of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, encouraging them to continue the exploration of their traditional knowledge basis, record their findings and therefore ensure the distinctiveness and character of the tribe will endure.

Living by the Moon is beautifully written in both Māori and English. As Joan Metge notes in her forward:

Wiremu Tāwhai demonstrates his own gifts as a word-weaver… the rewards [of this book] are greats when the texts are read side by side, paragraph by paragraph.Taken together, they complement and illuminate each other.

Doing this makes the book an easy read, with an insight into a world that once was and that many are now returning to.  It is certainly one book I will return to again and again, even just for the pleasure of reading it.

E Tā, ka rere āmiomio atu te whakamiha ki a koe e te huia kaimanawa mō tēnei taonga i tākoha mai nei.  Māringanui katoa mātou i tōu tiro whakamua i tō whare kōrero kua whakakaohia e koe, hei taonga whakamahi mō ngā uri whakaheke e manakotia mai ana ki ēnei mea.  Nā reira e Tā, ahakoa kua riro koe ki te manaakitanga o rātou mā, ā, e ora tonu ana tōu owha, te owha nā ngā tipuna.  Āpōpō ko te Rakaunui te tīmatatanga o te maramataka hou hei arahi i tō rahi.

Further reading

Ranginui Walker: Teller of truths

Cover of Mata Toa: The life and times of Ranginui WalkerAt the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in 2009, I was lucky enough to attend a session in which Ranginui Walker, academic, historian and biographer shared the stage with his own biographer and friend Paul Spoonley.

Over the course of the hour Walker came across as an intelligent, committed man with a great deal of personal integrity. Someone who never intended to be “the voice of Māoridom” for Pākehā New Zealand but somehow ended up there (and as you can imagine this was not often a comfortable position to be in). He spoke quietly and modestly of his accomplishments while there was no doubt that the courteous and stately manner was underlaid by a steely resolve. This is often the case with people who tell difficult truths.

Cover of Ka whawhai tonu matou: Struggle without endHis contribution to our understanding of ourselves as a country cannot be overstated. His 1990 history of New Zealand from a Māori perspective, Ka whawhai tonu matou: Struggle without end (along with Michael King’s The Penguin history of New Zealand) is a must read for anyone interested in how New Zealand came to be the place it is. It was a revelation to many and is a seminal work, which was later updated to address the Foreshore and Seabed debate. It is still a great and relevant read for all New Zealanders.

He wrote many other books that illuminated some aspect of the Māori experience of Aotearoa from a highly-acclaimed biography of Sir Apirana Ngata to a tribal history of his own beloved Whakatōhea iwi.

Ranginui Walker passed away yesterday at the age of 83. New Zealand has lost a great writer, thinker, and person.

Further Reading