In the stories of old, the ruru (morepork) watched over the world as a bird of the night. Although its call has been widely interpreted as a sign of bad news, the Hui-ā-Iwi of Kāi Tahu sought to bring a new meaning to light. “The new tohu encompasses the nurturing and growth of older and younger generations within the tail, pointing outwards from the manawa” (Māui Studios Aotearoa).
And so it was this weekend, that young and old came together in the spirit of kotahitanga to celebrate the state of the iwi in a way which made everyone feel the joy. The kapa haka was vibrant; the whitebait patties delicious and the delight of mokopuna blowing up balloons; collecting branded wristbands; trying out temporary ta moko, and filling up on fruit was evident throughout the weekend.
Dunedin was buzzing with the mass arrivals of takatā whenua from right across Aotearoa and even further afield. Whānau came together to watch their papatipu rūnaka perform on stage; to receive the annual report from the kaiwhakahaere, Ta Mark Solomon and Deputy Kaiwhakahaere, Lisa Tumahai; or to catch up on Whai Rawa; the iwi investment scheme; the Ngāi Tahu Fund; investing in ‘cultural excellence’; or the latest innovation, the Pēpi Pod; a safe sleeping wahakura, a traditionally woven bassinet which enables babies to sleep with their parents safely.
Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu was thrilled to take part in a showcase tribute of such talent and tenacity; the long term investment thinking of the iwi demonstrated with remarkable consistency. This is a family business with at last count 54,140 registered stakeholders; an intergenerational industry of investment in wellbeing; a tribal strategy that is planning ahead to ensure every one of its descendants is culturally astute, while at the same time commercially savvy.
Tā Tipene O’Regan challenged Ngāi Tahu to continue to create the “cradle of our cultural landscape”. It is a mission that Te Pūtahitanga is keen to emulate. It was wonderful to see three of our featured celebrities – the tamariki who have inspired the illustrations in one of our initiatives, Reo Pēpi. There is no denying the pride in these young faces, in seeing their own faces in print.
Hui-ā-Iwi 2015 was hosted by three of the Ārai-te-Uru Papatipu Rūnanga – Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki, and Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou. There was something for everyone – the rhythms of the Dunedin Ukulele Orchestra; the ‘polynesian korero’ of voyaging waka expert Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr; the play, Hell and Bullets: the WW1 diary of Private Hohepa Teihoka by John Broughton. Maisey Rika, the Modern Māori Quartet and Beau Monga performed to universal delight; tamariki and rakatahi grooved to hip hop; others were stimulated by the learning the latest in freshwater policy.
One of the highlights for whānau was the kapa haka that ran throughout the Saturday Showcase Day and the language awards on Friday night, joined by the Minister for Whānau Ora who celebrated with the whānau gathered the remarkable reach and breadth of the language champions throughout the Ngāi Tahu takiwā. Both these events represent the ultimate expression of the tribal vision: Mō tātou ā mō kā uri ā muri ake nei: "For us and our children after us."
There is no better boost for the soul than to see the health and spirit of whānau enjoying the dizzy heights of love – love of their identity; their sense of belonging; their cultural connections. Te Pūtahitanga looks forward to joining with all of our nine iwi partners across Te Waipounamu, as each demonstrates the awesome strength of people on the rise.
Let’s hear it one more time!