PŪTAHI A WHENUA | Te Kerekere Roycroft

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There can be many factors that contribute to the current condition and potential future of special and sacred spaces significant to a Māori rohe/hapū. These can be: environmental, financial, ownership or the relative awareness of whanau that live inside and outside our rohe. For many Iwi/hapū, whanaunga invariably move away for work or family. Often causing younger generations to lose connection to the korero of why our whenua/rohe is important to us. That the future of these spaces are still significant and worth preserving.

Roiho is the inspiration and test case for this project. It has served many roles for the generations that built our nga hapū. Roiho is a wāhi tapu – sacred site - in Pakanae, Hokianga. It is the burial ground and former papakainga of our rohe. It was one of the papakainga of the explorer Kupe and those that followed and settled after him. A fertile whenua and plentiful moana enabled our tūpuna to live and thrive in our rohe, laying the foundation of links and connections we have back to our turangawaewae – place to stand. In this current context, where we only utilise a handful of spaces significant to how our tūpuna lived, we need to remain aware that there is a network of spaces. Spaces that varied in function and purpose, but together all enabled us to thrive to this current generation. This project began from a desire to preserve and manage one, Roiho, but the project grew larger than a single site. Roiho became a gateway, for a real and known place, a way into a life that’s in my blood and who I am.

Environmentally Roiho is prone to wave erosion, sea level rise, land use change and neighbouring agricultural stressors. Understanding and motivation are both important factors when planning for the future of any landscape. There is a need to increase awareness of whanaunga regarding our rohe specific korero, to increase their understand of the importance of specific places to our history and occupation of this whenua. More collective understanding of our stories, song and memories, should enable us to use all of who we are to affect the management of our significant whenua through a process that connects impetus, through knowledge transmission; collaboration and design; to outcomes that enable future aspirations for these places that are important to us and our rohe.

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Undertaking a project under a kaupapa Māori methodology, reinforces the need for korero and collaboration with and towards the desires and aspirations of Iwi/hapū. Korero was undertaken, and guidance sought with several whanau who whakapapa back to this whenua, to inform this project along the most respectful and fruitful path. There needed to be a way that we can enrich the knowledge base of the whanaunga of our nga hapū, while also enabling that knowledge to inform a response for the future of the significant whenua of our rohe. Development of a process, ‘Pūtahi a Whenua’, that could collect, transmit and in so doing retain rohe specific korero for whanaunga regardless of where they reside. And, also, utilise that collection/transmission resource ‘Rawa Whakahou’ to drive interactions and/or interventions to ensure the longevity of a network of spaces that were/are important to how we lived and interact with our rohe. This process enables work through, step by step, all the issues and aspects that are important to who we are as Ngāti Korokoro, Te Pouka, Ngāti Wharara and Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu. And, how our nga hapū moves forward; gaining what our tūpuna desired for us, how we can meet the intent of those desires and make them our own.

Once we are aligned with the intent of our tūpuna, and the more we know and understand our rohe specific mātauranga Māori, the better equipped we are to move forward with a clear and defined consciousness to drive change for what we value. With this, we will be able to understand how our worldview fits together and what impacts or benefits each of our decision has, what our position is when working together with potential external collaborators. Ensuring an understanding that is by, with and for us; ensuring tika, pono and aroha towards our own outcomes.

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