There’s nothing more powerful than seeing the strength of our young people

This week has seen such dramatic scenes from Madrid as the Spanish Prime Minister appealed to his senate to create rule of law after the  Catalian Parliament votes for independence from Spain.  In New York 2800 documents have been released to the public related to the assassination of former Prime Minister JF Kennedy in 1963.

Across the ditch in Canberra, the Australian Parliament was thrown into disarray after the Court ruled that the deputy Prime Minister and four other members of Senate are ineligible to remain in parliament on the grounds of their dual citizenship.  In the Australian constitution politicians who have dual citizenship are banned from parliament to avoid split allegiances.

In the midst of such global unrest, I came across this story about our own tuatara and it made me smile.   Tuatara are so astonishing. They whakapapa to the species of dinosaurs that existed two hundred million years ago.   That’s right….200 million years!   Over sixty million years ago all other variations of the Spenodontia whānau had become extinct except for tuatara.

At the beginning of this month, the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef welcomed six tuatara who had been translocated to Franz Josef by Ngāti Koata handlers.   

Ngati Koata have kaitiakitanga responsibilities for this amazing species.  The iwi has a special love for tuatara as guardians of the stream of knowledge.   Their third eye allows them to see into the spirit world, and because of their longevity, age relates to wisdom.

About 50-60,000 live on Takapouwera (Stephens Island) in the Marlborough Sounds.   But now, with the opening of the new tuatara enclosure at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, New Zealanders will get access to these fabulous creatures.   

It does make you wonder – what have they seen, how have they endured war and civic unrest, global change, earthquakes, habitat decline, floods and other natural disasters?  How do they survive?  What is their secret?

Their tangata tiaki, those who care for them, Ngati Koata, understand the importance of history, the value of protecting and preserving knowledge over time.   Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has been supporting Ngati Koata in their initiative called Whakamaheretia te Matauranga.   The initiative aims to increase connection, confidence and participation by creating a whānau archive of Ngati Koata traditional knowledge.

Whakamaheretia te Mātauranga involves the Ngati Koata Trust recording, mapping and transmitting their traditional knowledge; while at the same time establishing a database to record sites of significance, and to build knowledge of tools to capture and record data for the future.

The success of their three wānanga in Whakatū, Porirua and Kirikiriroa has encouraged Ngati Koata to hold more. Frank and Jarom Hippolite are pictured below in Whaingaroa (Raglan), enroute to building the knowledge, sharing the knowledge of what makes Ngati Koata unique.

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Meanwhile, two hundred million years later….

History of a more recent period was celebrated this week, with the twenty year anniversary of Kai Tahu Ki Otago (KTKO) in Dunedin.

Kara Edwards and Maria Bartlett (Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu) with Chris Rosenbrock, General Manager KTKO

Kara Edwards and Maria Bartlett (Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu) with Chris Rosenbrock, General Manager KTKO



We have had a number of Whānau Ora initiatives with KTKO, as well as Whānau Ora Navigators working with them.  One such initiative was Te Kakano Maara Kai – up to ten whānau came together to set up the gardens at Araiteuru Marae; bringing a community together to the benefit of over fifty whānau members.   The gardens brought more whānau to the marae, the food was distributed to up to forty whānau including the kaumātua flats, and the gardens became a source of emergency kai for whanau in need.


Joy Smith (Ngai Tahu Maori Law) and Sue (KTKO);

Joy Smith (Ngai Tahu Maori Law) and Sue (KTKO);



The night was a wonderful occasion to nurture in the new branding of Aukaha – springing from the concept of kia kaha, au kaha : unite, bind together.  It resonates with all that KTKO has developed over the last twenty years – their focus on RMA across the four papatipu rūnanga (Te Roopu Taiao); their relationship with Te Ao Marama in Southland, and their evolving relationships with the whānau of Waihao.

It was a privilege to hear the history of two decades recounted by Edward Ellison (KTKO Board); with the support of Matapura Ellison (Te Runaka o Otakou) and the Regional Council.

Passchendaele: the horror of the Great War

While in Dunedin I took some time to reflect on what has been called the greatest disaster in New Zealand’s history; the failed attack on Bellevue Spur on 12 October 1917.     One hundred year ago, the ANZAC Corps were called to capture Passchendaele in Flanders, Belgium.   Thick mud had made it impossible to bring heavy guns forward, and our soldiers were unable to break through uncut barbed wire; leaving them exposed to German machine-gun fire.

For badly wounded soldiers lying in the mud the toll was horrendous; many died before rescuers could reach them; 843 soldiers fell that day.   Ka maumahara tonu matou.


Navigators Come Together in the South

Just down the road in Alexandra, Whānau Ora Navigators from Haast, Arowhenua, Oteputi, Waihopai, Tokomairiro and Hokonui shared a great day together, hosted magnificently by Uruuruwhenua Health Services.   The Navigators were blessed with whitebait from Te Tai Poutini from Helen Rasmussen; making us all lick our lips in envy!

The focus of the Navigator’s Regional Hui was to share time with our data analyst, Olga Singh, and understand the relevance of the data to our work, and how we can share highlights with our whānau.   Trish Young from Awarua Whānau Services was also a keynote speaker, sharing highlights with the team.

The group behind the table were the Uruuruwhenua mother and pepi group who were fundraising for their kids Christmas party and they prepared a sensational meal for us. The group also have been learning to cook so this was an awesome opportunity to showcase their skills.


Te Putangitangi Kapa Haka competitions

Just a little bit further south, our Whanau Ora champion Raniera Dallas, had a fabulous day in Murihiku supporting all of the rangatahi / taiohi standing in the Te Putangitangi kapahaka competitions.  Haka time in Te Waipounamu – there’s nothing more powerful than seeing the strength of our young people inspiring us from the verge of tears to rapturous applause.


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Te Korari launches

At the other end of Te Waipounamu, Nga Muka (Te Ataarangi) held a wonderful launch on Labour Day of their new initiative, Te Korari.   Our contracts advisor, Te Ra Morris, attended the launch at Parklands School, Motueka where he raved about such a fantastic turn out of whānau. There was heaps of fun with a range of interactive whānau learning activities, inside and out. Five whānau are allocated to each kaiako to help develop learning resources in the home.   Ka mau te wehi!  Building language champions in the home – there’s no better way to help the language to thrive,


Te Ara Raukura

This week I had the great honour of speaking at Te Ara Raukura / Manukura: the celebration of over 140 leaders amongst the seven schools of the Eastern cluster and Kaikoura High School.  You can read my speech here.


Luke EganComment