Remembering as an Act of Resistance

March 9, 2022, 12:49 p.m.

Seven pouwhenua carved by Māori Erstich, Darrin Pivac and Billy Harrison line Te Ikatiritiri Estuary in representation of the seven children of Ngāti Kahu tupuna, Haiti Tai Marangai. Tūpōia, Mokokohi, Tahuora, Te Aukiwa, Taramarae, Hungahunga and Kākaitawhiti.

Will we remember what took place at 55 Taipa Point Road or 1 Wharo Way in the same way we remember the Battles of Hukatere and Honuhonu? What role do original ingoa Māori for place names play?

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Former MP and local Historian, Shane Jones and Te Tai Tokerau MP/ Te Arawhiti Minister, Kelvin Davis accept the wero of Ngati Kahus request for Crown to purchase back Maheatai for manawhenua.

Former MP and local historian, Shane Jones spoke about the importance of learning and preserving history at the occupation of Maheatai (Taipa Point Reserve) in 2021 and its role in the restoration of land rights.

“Pania Newton knew that by knowing the history of Ihumātao she could fight for the return of that whenua. There was no treaty claim on that land and for anyone here from the occupation in Ahipara, you will not get given the whenua back until you get your history correct. The name is Moringaehe, after the whare mamae named in the hills when Chief Toakai died” said Jones.

When the Native Land Court came into effect in the 1860s, with a goal to fragment Māori land and convert multiple owned Native Title into General Title with one owner to make it easier to buy and sell. Careless record keeping and the loss or fragmentation of large parcels of whenua Māori, led, amongst other things, to the recording of incorrect names for people and places. Furthermore, as whenua was fragmented and confiscated under a number of different legislations, knowledge of whakapapa was also lost.

“It was right here on Maheatai, where one of the biggest Crown land purchases took place that literally left Ngāti Kahu landless” said Jones.

Heritage New Zealand is an agency that documents the significance of places and stories and is stored on a publicly accessible database. In 2019, the late Mangu Awarau (Patrick Awarau) assisted in the restoration of whenua Māori in Waimanoni to the rightful owners, Ngai Takoto. He provided those occupying the site with original documentation he had lodged himself with Heritage New Zealand, regarding the significance of the site which showed Waimanoni (Te Take Awa) as the landing place of the Takitimu waka. 

Mangu Awarau fought for the remaining 35ha in Waimanoni and was able to witness the return of the whenua to the iwi in 2019 before his passing in 2020. Nearby, the road named ‘Tamatea Rd’ where Unahi Wharf in the Rangaunu Harbour is located, is named after the captain of the Takitimu waka.

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Te Rarawa iwi hui in September 2021, gather around the severed tūpuna rakau in Moringaehe/Moringai.

The Moringaehe/Moringai occupation in Ahipara was sparked by the destruction of a significant pōhutukawa. The tree was not registered in the local councils ‘schedule of notable trees but it was detailed in the environmental plan lodged by local hapū. 

The developer claimed they did not know of the tree’s significance. The pohutukawa was regarded as an elder, or a tupuna, by local hapū; it was growing on the site of the first Native Land Court and connected to the tupuna, Toakai.

The name of Moringai/Moringaehe attracted debate. Penetaui Kleskovic spoke to Te Hiku Media on the issue. Archives New Zealand shows evidence of the name changing three times between 1827 and 1902 from Moringai to Moringaehe and then back to Moringai again. The ability to validate why this happened proved difficult as records were inconsistent, but whare wānanga records held by the iwi of Te Rarawa and written in te reo Māori, confirmed what was stated by Shane Jones, that the area was in fact named Moringaehe after the ‘wharenui’ built when the chief Toakai died.

In the case of Moringaehe, a failure in local council processes meant the significance of the site wasn’t noted in the District Plan from the lodged hapū environmental plan. Therefore, registering sites within frameworks, such as territorial authorities or Heritage New Zealand, while an important safety net has holes. Maintaining knowledge locally through wānanga, restoring original placenames and exploring waiata and pūrakau are vital practices. 

Institutions, such as, Nga Taonga Sound and Vision build and maintain relationships with iwi, hapū and whānau to support the long term care of audiovisual knowledge. For example, you can find a record of the waiata composed for the Ngaruhe Paraone of Te Aupouri. Paraone was the 169th signatory of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. By visiting the Te Aupouri website , you can then find the words to this waiata which holds a rich treasure trove of historic kōrero relevant to Te Aupouri on the Te Aupouri iwi website. 

Knowing and remembering history is essential for the wellbeing of Māori. It supports a strong identity, the kaitiakitanga of whenua and in some cases the return of that land. 

'Te toto o te tangata he kai, te oranga o te tangata he whenua.'

'Food is the blood of the people, but the welfare of the people lies in the land.'

The land is not just a source of sustenance to the body but also a source of wellbeing; physically, mentally and spiritually. As the descendants of Papatuānuku (Mother Earth), we do not just live on the land or rely on it for food, we belong to it.

By Eru Timoko Ihaka.

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