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September 22, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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Maori History Symposium

Why Study New Zealand History? History is my major and throughout my first year I avoided any papers that had ‘New Zealand’ or ‘Pacific History’ in the title. Why?
Because as a secondary school student I endured years of social studies and history classes that regurgitated stories of early settlers to New Zealand with little or no mention of Māori. None of this left any lasting impression.

So when it came to deciding what history papers I would take, just thinking of Ada McGrath (the heroine of The Piano) waiting for some Māori to carry her beloved piano up a beach was enough for me to focus on other peoples’ history.

But in my second year I enrolled in ‘Māori and Pākehā in 19th Century New Zealand’ in the History Department and ‘The Treaty of Waitangi’ which was only offered through Te Kawa a Māui, the School of Māori Studies.

It blew my mind.

These papers explained New Zealand’s past from a Māori perspective. I was introduced to scholars such as Professor Ranginui Walker, Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, Dr Mason Durie and Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith. These Māori academics have engaged with their tūpuna and implemented tikanga Māori into their research methodology and historical discourse. Walker’s Ka Whawhai Tonu M tou: Struggle Without End (1990) was a great starting point looking at Maori perspectives in history. It was enlightening to delve into this country’s past from a Māori viewpoint by exploring the mythological origins of Māori society, the migration of Māori waka, settlement theories and tribalism.

Questions arose. How can we discuss our past and assess the present without being aware of the effects of colonisation on the native people of this land? What would it take for a Māori-told story to become part of this nation’s memory? Is a Māori version of history a valid ambition?

The media today seem to have no conscience as frequent news items scream out corrupted headlines. Incorrect historical information within these articles feeds fear and misrepresentation into our society. If only all New Zealanders had the luxury that we as university students have, to be guided by academics who teach us to explore and question a wide range of material before passing judgement.

Te Pū Nehenehe
In the first volume of Te Pouhere K rero: M ori History, M ori People, an article entitled ‘”How Shall We Sing Our Own Songs in a Strange Land?”: Māori Students and the Challenge of University History’ written by Sheryl Connell, Mererina Pelling and John Chapman, inspired a few History and Māori Studies students to form a group that would support Māori history students.

For the regulars at Te Herenga Waka Marae on the Kelburn campus, we already had a place and a group of people that encouraged us academically within tikanga Māori. However, it was disconcerting for us to think that there could be other history students out there, especially Māori history students, who did not feel that their tūpuna were adequately represented in New Zealand history, leaving them feeling isolated.

History is an exciting and challenging discipline and we are fortunate to have superb history lecturers who fuel our passion for historical inquiry. But currently there is no course in the History Department that discusses tikanga Māori or mātauranga Māori within the discipline of history. Nor do any papers cover the Treaty of Waitangi in depth.

Thus, Te Pū Nehenehe wants to support other students who are interested in historical research pertaining to Māori. There are undergraduates and postgraduates involved, both Māori and Pākehā. We were named by Te Ripowai Higgins, the taurima of the marae and an expert in te reo Māori. It is essential to have guidance when discussing tikanga and how we conduct ourselves with our research.

The orthodoxy of history struggles with the level of subjectivity that can be integral to writing iwi and hapū history. The dominant narrative in New Zealand has often been aimed at a broad or academic audience, and thus Maori voices have been obscured. Māori histories told by and for Māori people have not always been a large part of New Zealand’s knowledge of the past.

And this is what Te Pū Nehenehe aims to address, looking at Māori academics in the field. We meet at Te Herenga Waka Marae once a week and have lunch. Surrounded by our peers, mentors and kaumātua (elders), te reo is spoken and waiata are sung. And then there is the wharenui, steeped in the histories and traditions of Māori that we wish to see told.

Te Haerenga With the generous support of the office of PVC Māori, Te Herenga Waka Marae and Ngāi Tauira, we were able to take seven students and ‘Grandma’ (kuia Kathy Samuel) up to attend He Rau Tumu Kōrero: Māori Historians Symposium at the University of Waikato. The kaupapa of the hui was to bring researchers within Māori and iwi history together under one roof.

At 8 am Matu Stevens (kaiārahi Te Herenga Waka Marae) blessed Te Pū Nehenehe with a karakia then we set off for Kirikiriroa (Hamilton).

Taawhana, our kaiārahi (guide), organised a travel route that would take us through the King Country and Taupō district, stopping at places of historical significance. Being of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, it was only right that Taawhana be our guide as his tūpuna were the tangata whenua in these parts.

After days of rain, we’d been blessed by the first sunny day in weeks. When we got to Ōtaki Grandma said “We should go to Rangiātea Church” and we replied “ae!”.

Rangiātea is an Anglican Church named after a place in Hawaiki, and was built in 1851 by the people of Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa and Te  ti Awa. We paid respects to the tūpuna who lie in the urupā and then went inside the church.

We also stopped at a little yellow homestead on Rangatira Street that was home to the founding members of Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club. I’m sure we could hear the tinkering of a piano and the voices of our kaitaki’s tūpuna warming up for some waiata.

Just out of Levin is Grandma’s marae Māhinaarangi. The name is from the puhi (woman of high rank) Māhinaarangi of Ngāti Kahungunu who married the Tainui rangatira Tūrongo. One could not help but think of the two large-scale human movements that saw Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa from the Waikato region, come armed into Manawatū and Horowhenua and challenge the local people for their lands. The leader of the Tainui invaders was Te Rauparaha of Ngāti Toa. From 1822, with Ngāti Raukawa and Te  ti Awa allies from Taranaki, he challenged the local tribes – Ngāti Apa, Rangitāne and Muaūpoko.

After spending hours in the Manawatū and Horowhenua (that’s what happens when half of the people in the waka are tangata whenua), we stopped at Taihape to feast on our delicious kai given to us by Te Herenga Waka marae. By the time we hit the Desert Road we were in Ngāti Tūwharetoa land and instead of passing through Taupō, we took a left at Tūrangi. As we slowly weaved up the narrow road, images of waka crossing the lake with rangatira (chiefs) travelling from long distances came into mind.

We went through Pūkawa (Te Pūkawatanga o te ahi tapu o Rereao) where an inter-tribal hui was held by the Ngāti Manunui hapū of Ngāti Tūwharetoa in 1856. The wharetūpuna, Manunuia- Ruakapanga, was gifted to Ngāti Tūwharetoa by Waikato in 2006 to mark 150 years since the meeting of the chiefs at Pūkawa. Here Te Wherowhero from Waikato was offered the title of the first Māori King. He then travelled to his cousins of Ngāti Maniapoto to seek their blessing and support for the Kingitanga.

The Kingitanga established an aukati line, a form of Māori customary law which established a boundary line that was defended by warriors. But in 1863 the aukati line was breached when Governor George Grey ordered the British Army to invade the Waikato. In 1864 King Tāwhiao and his people fled west and took refuge amongst Ngāti Maniapoto. Their place of refuge became known as Te Rohe Pōtae (the ‘King Country’).

The King Country extends southwards into Awakino, Mokau and Whanganui, and now includes more than twenty state forests. Driving from Pūkawa, we passed remnants of the once majestic indigenous podocarp forests that clothed the entire landscape.

Te Kūiti was where the tūpuna of our kaiārahi lay and we were honoured to visit the urupā at Te Tokanganui-a-nohomarae. Te Tokanganui-a-noho marae was originally situated at Tokangamutu. It was built by Te Kooti in 1872 and gifted to Ngāti Maniapoto as a koha for sheltering Te Kooti.

Dusk was beginning to fall so we started driving north again. At Haurua, just south of Ōtorohanga, we were just able to make out a memorial stone that represents Ngāti Maniapoto’s support for the Māori King movement. In 1857 a meeting called Te Puna o te Roimata (the wellspring of tears) was held between Te Wherowhero and his Ngāti Maniapoto tuākana. They gave Te Wherowhero their approval and he became known as Pōtatau I.

It was now dark but we had one last stop to make at the Rewi Maniapoto memorial at Kihikihi. Rewi Maniapoto was a dynamic rangatira and is most associated with the defence of Ōrākau in 1864. In the face of overwhelming odds against a numerically superior British force, and despite a call to surrender, his historic reply was given “E hoa, ka whawhai tonu mātou,  ke!  ke!  ke!” (Friend, we will fight on forever, forever and forever!’). It was notable to stand on the site that marks the house where Rewi Maniapoto lived during his older age.

He Rau Tumu Kōrero: Māori Historians Symposium
Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nōna te ngahere
Ko te manu e kai i te mātauranga, nōna te ao.

The hui was organised by Nēpia Mahuika (Ngāti Porou, Waikato/ Ngāti Maniapoto), a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Waikato. The overall theme of the hui was the dynamic nature of history and acknowledging that history is not simply about understanding the past, but developing a stronger awareness of how we are actively contributing to history in the present.

The calibre of the presenters at the hui was impressive. Māori academic women and men, experts in their fields, opened up the debate on Māori history and unearthed the challenges and issues faced by Māori historians. There were some presentations that stood out.

Dr Monty Soutar (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa), director of Tairāwhiti Museum in Gisborne, shared his experiences about writing his forthcoming book NgāTama Toa: The Price of Citizenship – C Company, 28 (Māori) Battalion 1939-1945. Based on his oral history project spanning almost a decade, Soutar researched his own iwi, his own people and he had Ngā Taonga a Ngā Tama Toa Trust to answer to. His evidence and book had a direct impact on the lives of the people around him and Soutar acknowledged that a Māori historical methodology at times conflicted what he learnt as a western-trained academic historian.

Dr Margaret Mutu (Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa), professor of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland, told the saga of settling Ngāti Kahu’s historical Treaty claims. Drawing connections with Soutar’s experience, Mutu believed that researchers must have whakapapa links to hapū in order to take responsibility for their work, so that “if they muck it up, they have to live with the mess”.

Dr Danny Keenan (Te  tiawa, Ngāti Te Whiti), associate professor of Māori Studies here at Victoria University, also addressed this theme, presenting a talk about his book: Terror In Our Midst? Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand released earlier this month. One of the main issues which arose when editing the collection of essays was the conflict between ‘Māori’ history and ‘iwi’ or ‘hapū-based’ histories. Are the October 2007 ‘Terrorism raids’ Tuhoe’s story to tell, or is it a ‘Māori’ story?

Aroha Harris (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi), lecturer in History at the University of Auckland, spoke of the Nigerian whakatauakī:

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

She emphasised the need for Māori to write their own histories and expressed her desire to one day see Māori writing enter mainstream New Zealand history. Recognising history as one of the most powerful of the colonising tools, she asked “What will it take for Māori history to be the nation’s memory, for Māori writing to be the ‘bedside-table’ book?”

The day of our return we drove out of the Waikato and headed to Te Teko to pay our respects to ‘Grandpa’ Pita Samuel who passed away a year earlier. Grandpa was a man who encouraged many students at Te Herenga Waka Marae for nearly two decades with his kōrero and wisdom.

Grandma insisted that we stop at Hongi’s Track (between Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoehu) because Grandpa (tangata whenua) said that you could never drive past the ‘wishing tree’ without stopping to make a wish. The large mataī is known as Hinehopu’s wishing tree. As a baby she was hidden there from enemies by her mother. It was also at this spot that she later met her future husband Pikiao, the forebearer of the Ngāti Pikiao people.

We were stimulated and inspired by the academics and the content of their presentations. From Te Whanganui-ā-Tara to Kirikirioa and back, the discussion and debate only stopped when we slept. It was awesome to see how the land has impacted our past through settlement, migration, war and the transformation of this country into what it is today. We think there are a few Masters and PhD topics that could be developed from the overall experience of our haerenga.

Finally, as Dr Alice Te Punga Somerville expressed in her presentation at the hui, there are ‘stories within stories’ within stories to be told. This is the story of Te Pū Nehenehe and how the stories of our tūpuna are an integral part of our identity and the history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

This article is dedicated to ‘Grandpa’ Pita Samuel who passed away on 6 September 2007.

tepuunehenehe@gmail.com

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  1. Michelle Marino says:

    Kei te pono te nuinga o nga tangata i nga korero o nehera i tuhi ai i nga kaituhi Pakeha. Kei te he hoki i nga kaituhi Pakeha a Elsdon Best ratou Ko Kawana Kerei Ko Percy Smith era atu pera. He korero he hoki ki nga whakapapa, Ko te tangata Hatana matou hoki, Ka whawhai pakanga i nga wa katoa, Kei te takahi te mana o nga tupuna, Kaore matou i nga tangata rangimarie era atu korero kino.

    E pai noa kia haere ki nga whare wananga o nga hapu me nga iwi. Ka ako nga korero tika, Ka ako hoki, Kei te he i nga kaituhi Pakeha pera ki a Kawana Kerei maa.e

  2. Michelle Marino says:

    Kei te pono te nuinga o nga tangata i nga korero o nehera i tuhi ai i nga kaituhi Pakeha. Kei te hee hoki i nga kaituhi Pakeha a Elsdon Best ratou Ko Kawana Kerei Ko Percy Smith era atu pera. He korero he hoki ki nga whakapapa, Ko te tangata Hatana matou hoki, Ka whawhai pakanga i nga wa katoa, Kei te takahi te mana o nga tupuna, Kaore matou i nga tangata rangimarie era atu korero kino.

    E pai noa kia haere ki nga whare wananga o nga hapu me nga iwi. Ka ako nga korero tika, Ka ako hoki, Kei te he i nga kaituhi Pakeha pera ki a Kawana Kerei maa.

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