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Monday, 14 April 2014

Makaawhio Whare Karakia

Bishop Matthews and the Hokitika-South Westland vicar Vivien Harber, and congregation outside the Jacobs River Church last Thursday.
Nestled in a paddock opposite the Jacobs River School, the little Anglican Church, which opened in 1931, has an enviable backdrop of nearby Aoraki and the other peaks of Ka Tiritiri o te Moana. It has been under a cloud of uncertainty in recent years, with talk of closure and it being uplifted and taken to Christchurch to serve as a chapel in quake-hit areas. 

All of that was put to rest last week when the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews paid her first visit to the church, conducting an early morning service  by the glow of candlelight, and then declared that it was safe from closure and had a future for the community as part of the new 'Pioneer Church Route' of old South Westland churches. St James' at Franz Josef, St Luke's at Whataroa and St John's and St James at Hari Hari complete the Pioneer Route. 


The Bishop had wanted a powhiri at the marae before the service to launch the Pioneer Route, but this was not possible as the marae was already full with a visiting group. However, Makaawhio whanau were well represented among the small gathering for the service last Thursday -- Jeff Mahuika, Maria Russell, Helen Rasmussen, Di Solomon and Maree Wilson and moko.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Makaawhio meets royalty!

Kahurangi Mahuika, second from left, and Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon, second from right. Oh yes, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the middle!

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, got wet on the ultimate in Ngai Tahu thrills and spills today, Shotover Jet - and one of our own was privileged to be one of the guides!

Kahurangi Mahuika - son of Kara Edwards and the late Brent Mahuika - got to ride in the same jetboat with the royals. In 1990, Kahu's pouanui, Bob Wilson, welcomed Prince William's poua, the Duke of Edinburgh, to Bruce Bay!

Here's what Shotover Jet had to say about today's royal tripping:

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed adrenalin thrills and breathtaking spins on Queenstown’s Shotover Jet today on a trip renowned as ‘The world’s most exciting jet boat ride’.

The South Island resort town, known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of adventure tourism, lived up to its name when the Royal couple sped through the dramatic and narrow Shotover River Canyons on a ‘Big Red’ jet boat -- skilfully manoeuvred within centimetres of sheer rock faces carved out over hundreds of years by fast-flowing water from the Southern Alps.

Smiling broadly and somewhat damp thanks to spray generated by a series of Shotover Jet’s signature 360-degree spins, the couple chatted and laughed throughout their experience and asked plenty of questions en route.

They travelled along a 7km stretch of the river at speeds of up to 85kmh (53mph) in as little as 10cm of water, powered by their jet boat’s unique water jet propulsion units.

“The Duke and Duchess had specifically asked to have a trip that was the same as any we offer on a day-to-day basis,” said Ngāi Tahu Tourism Southern Regional Manager David Kennedy.

“We were very happy to oblige because as one of New Zealand’s leading adventure tourism companies we’ve taken more than three million-plus passengers on trips over the years, and we like to think we treat all of our customers like royalty.

“We took two boats down the river on our usual 25-minute trip, although given our VIPs today our drivers just ‘may’ have thrown in a couple more spins than normal.

“They enjoyed a perfect Central Otago autumn day for it, with blue skies, sunshine, trees tinged with seasonal oranges and golds and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

“Just like any young couple they had plenty of questions about how the jet boats work, the scenery and gold mining history of this area and the river, and were keen to have key landmarks pointed out.

“And just like everyone else they hung on tight to the heated handrails in front of them when the driver warned them as he was about to go into each spin, an exhilarating experience that demonstrates the sheer power and manoeuvrability of our  twin V-8 powered ‘Big Red’ boats.”

The Duke and Duchess both dressed comfortably for the experience and the Duchess sported skinny blue jeans, paired with a navy blazer, striped shirt and flat loafers.

Both were fitted with bright red personalised Shotover Jet lifejackets and travelled in the first boat on the river, driven by highly-experienced Shotover Jet Operations Manager Wayne Paton.

Other passengers in the jet boat included members of the royal entourage, Ngāi Tahu *Kaiwhakahaere (tribal chairperson) Sir Mark Solomon, and a group of Ngāi Tahu youth who show tribal and business leadership potential.

A second boat driven by the equally experienced Head Boat Driver Nick Simpson followed shortly after, carrying more members of the Royal party, Ngāi Tahu *kaumātua (esteemed elder) Sir Tipene O’Regan and Ngāi Tahu *rangatahi (young people).

After the trip, the young couple were presented with a souvenir take-home photo pack of their jet ride – including shots of everyone on the two boats and a famous Shotover Jet ‘spin’ -- after getting back onto dry land.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Poutini Luminaries

Eleanor Catton (middle), with her special guests at the back, with Poutini Ngai Tahu and our Hokitika Primary School bilingual unit tamariki, at the Arahura Marae yesterday. Tumeke!

Eleanor Catton's world-winning novel The Luminaries is all the buzz on the West Coast right now - and yesterday we had the great privilege of welcoming her to Te Tai o Poutini with a powhiri at the Arahura Marae hosted jointly by Makaawhio and Ngati Waewae. It was a delight for everyone who attended, from the kohanga to kaumatua.

So what's the connection? Well, The Luminaries - which won the 2013 Booker Prize, the top literary prize in the world - is set entirely in Hokitika in 1866 at the time of the gold rushes. A fair chunk of the story (a murder mystery) is set in the Arahura Valley. Pounamu, Arahura, Mahitahi, Poutini Ngai Tahu ... all feature in the narrative - and one Te Rau Tauwhare is one of the central characters!
Signing the book for Maria Russell.


It's a great honour to have these tipuna names featured in such a famous book - both as Poutini Ngai Tahu and as West Coasters - it has already sold 100,000 copies in New Zealand and swags more around the world. So when Eleanor agreed to come back to the Coast this week for a public event in Hokitika, it seemed only right to welcome and acknowledge her on the marae too. 

Despite her sudden fame and the constant pressure of TV cameras following her (yes, including to the Tai o Poutini, but thankfully not to the powhiri), Eleanor is a warm and generous person, and she was truly humbled by her very first experience on the marae, as were the rest of her little entourage - her UK publisher and editor Max, her TV producer Andrew (they are in the early stages of turning The Luminaries into a high-brow television mini-series), and of course her boyfriend Steve.
Signing the book for Bronwyn Te Koeti.


The Luminaries has already set world records. At 28, Eleanor is the youngest writer ever to win the Booker Prize (the literary equivalent of the Academy Awards, only better); at 832 pages her book is by far the longest to win the prize (that is enormous in itself, that it still managed to wow the judges even though it was twice the size of a usual novel), and it is setting sales records.

Let's not forget that we on the Tai o Poutini already have our own Booker Prize winning writer - Keri Hulme, for her 1985 novel The Bone People. Keri is Ngai Tahu (no Moeraki) and has lived at Okarito for the past 40 years. We thought it'd be special if Keri could be there yesterday to meet and greet Eleanor, but unfortunately she wasn't able to come. 

Two Booker Prize winning novels - both set on Te Tai o Poutini - must be an incredible feat in anyone's 'book'!


Some of the tamariki were so in awe they had their shirts autographed (after approval from Whaea Bronwyn, of course!). Here, Eleanor signs Lucy Tonihi's shirt.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Ancient Mahitahi

Ahi kaa roa at Mahitahi, 2014, with Heretaniwha as the backdrop.

So, just how old is human settlement at Mahitahi/Bruce Bay? In terms of antiquity it's quite possibly as old as any in Te Waipounamu/Aotearoa (note: although the New Zealand isles are referred to liberally as 'Aotearoa' these days, there is ample evidence that 'Aotearoa' was originally used for the North Island, and was quite distinct from 'Te Waipounamu' for the South Island).

In tradition, we all know that Maui was one of the first to ever visit this land, after all, he 'fished up' the North Island (hence also known as Te Ika a Maui), from his foothold at Kaikoura. And we also know that before this famous event, Maui landed the Mahaanui waka on the beach at Mahitahi, a moment that is commemorated forever in the naming of Heretaniwha and Ka Tiritiriotemoana, as the southern portion of the Southern Alps. Tradition also has a more misty story of an even earlier visit by the fairy people!

For generations, our whanau have witnessed the tell-tale signs of 'midden' or ancient shellfish rubbish dumps, right along the Bruce Bay coastline; as one lot washed away, another would be exposed behind it. This continued for years, and to an extent is still occurring as the sea continues to eat away at the coastline (the Bruce Bay School site is long yielded to the sea and the sawmill site is now threatened). 

In the mid-1980s, Hokitika archaeologist the late Ray Hooker spent a lot of time working with our kaumatua in this area. At the time he calculated that some 200 metres of land had been eroded at Bruce Bay since the 1930s, when whanau reported numerous midden along the beachfront. At this point, Hooker excavated one of the large middens here, recovering as well as the usual shellfish, bones of dog and kukupa (wood pigeon), ling and barracoutta etc. These were carbon dated to 1400AD (plus or mins 31 years). That was 30 years ago, and the erosion has stopped for no man - and midden continue to be exposed, although fewer and fewer as the coastline claims more ground inland. But the antiquity of Mahitahi is much older than that, as you will see.

Julius von Haast's 1868 drawing showing where gold diggers found the taonga.
Rewind to 1868, just three years after the discovery of gold and the arrival of the first Pakeha settlers at Mahitahi. Julius von Haast, a renowned geologist and the founding father of Canterbury Museum walked down the coastline from Hokitika to Mahitahi and made an extraordinary find. (He also 'discovered' Tiori Patea, the ancient and well-trodden trail through the mountains, and immodestly renamed it 'Haast Pass'!). At Mahitahi - on a site very close to the present day Te Tauraka Waka a Maui Marae - Haast visited Sam Fiddean's goldmine well inland from the beach, where the miners had felled the tall rimu forest to sink their shaft, and about 14ft down found a stone chisel and a sharpening stone lying close to each other. The chisel was made of "a dark greenish chert and is partly polished; the sharpening-stone is formed of a coarse greyish sandstone, which I found in situ about ten miles south of this locality, near the mouth of the river Paringa".

Haast carefully measured the distance from the high-water mark to the exact spot where the taonga were found - 525ft. He took these two taonga back to the Canterbury Museum with him.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Whanau Picnic 2014


A bit late with the news, but the Mahaki whanau picnic at Woodstock on Waitangi Day, February 6, was a great success. We had lots of whanau turn up on a warm summer's day that was relaxing, fun and laid-back in a beautiful setting. Even the kaumatua had a great time, and not just from the sidelines! Whanaungatanga at its best.
Kaumatua eggs (and spoon!) race.

Tutoko's victory bounce as he leaves the adult sack race chaos in his dust!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Te Owai Falls

Mata Holliday names Te Owai Falls.

An unnamed beautiful waterfall near Lake Paringa is now decorated with the name of our beautiful tipuna, Te Owai.

Te Owai Falls was named this week by Mata Holliday after she and husband Ken ventured up the creek to view the natural wonder. Mata took the opportunity to name them after her great-aunty, who whangai'd Mata's grandmother, Makareta Pepene, after she was orphaned at the Makaawhio Pa.

Te Owai herself was the daughter of Kere Tutoko and married her cousin, Taringaroa, aka Ruera Te Naihi. For a time they lived together at Waitoto, near Haast, where Taringaroa was the ferryman, but he was drowned about 1902 while returning from a mahinga kai expedition just offshore to Nga Motu Taumaka (Open Bay Islands). 

His grieving widow then returned to Makaawhio, living in the cottage built for her by her brother in law Wi Katau Te Naihi. Te Owai's little cottage (later occupied by other whanau members) is still standing just behind the Jacobs River School. Dear old Te Owai, a kaitiaki of Mahaki whakapapa and waiata, died in the 1930s while staying with her Kini cousins at Little River, where she lies in the urupa on the hill.

(Incidentally, Te Owai was remembered fondly around Makaawhio Pa, where her name was pronounced 'Chowai' - such was the dialectal differences that sometimes turned te into 'che'.)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Hikoi Whakapapa 2014

On the way back from Waikohai (Gillespies Beach), with a magnificent view of Te Moenga o Tuawe (Fox Glacier) and Horokoau (Mt Tasman) just behind us.

Weary and exhausted, 35 cuzzies from Ngati Mahaki returned last night after three days and nights exploring our South Westland turangawaewae. This was an adventure in whakapapa, history and stories as we travelled by bus to significant sites.
Water + tamariki = fun! Matahi (Lake Ianthe).


After a history backgrounder and morning tea in Hokitika we next stopped on the shores of Matahi (Lake Ianthe) for lunch and a stretch. Next stop: Okarito. We all enjoyed the history and 'feel' of this kainga tuturu, staying together at the magnificent Royal Hostel, and meeting with the Okarito community for a shared meal and informal get-together in the historic Donovan's Store, a relic of the gold rushes. 
Donovan's Store, built in 1865, was chokka for a shared kai and get-together between Makaawhio and the Okarito community.
Rachael, Barbara and Richard get the kai ready at our Royal lodgings!

Shannon Mahuika, Jeff Mahuika and Rachael Forsyth wind down at the Royal.

Aunty Nan Pu occupies the 'throne' at the Royal table.
Saturday dawned calm and sunny (after a very blustery Friday) - ideal conditions for the main leg of our hikoi, to Makaawhio, calling in first to Waikohai (Gillespies Beach) after a hairy ride over a tricky road!

At Makaawhio we had planned a 'picnic in the pa' at the Old Pa, but a miscommunication with our boat drivers meant we were taken instead straight around to Tahekeakai, enjoying lunch among the beauty of the mouth of the Makaawhio River, followed by a short walk up to the ancient urupa. Then it was off to the marae for a rest, stories inside our beautiful whare and a bonfire and marshmellows across the road on Maori Beach for our tamariki. 
Hariata and Karera at Waikohai (Gillespies Beach).
Upokorunanga Richard Wallace, left, says karakia around the grave of Te Koeti Turanga at Tahekeakai Urupa, Makaawhio.
Ahi kaa roa - bonfire and marshmallows directly opposite the marae, on Maori Beach, with Heretaniwha in the distance as the sun goes down.
Sunday was not so bright but off to Awarua (Haast), with stops along the way to explore the stories of Knights Point, Nga Motu Taumaka (Open Bay Islands), Waiatoto and Arawhata, carrying on literally to the end of the road, at Okahu (Jackson Bay). Lunch at Helen Rasmussen's Grumpy Cow Cafe in Haast, followed by the homeward journey.