Keeping the fire burning

Culture is blooming in Tairawhiti, where iwi and communities are creating innovative ways of revisiting their histories, language and art. Reporter Shaan Te Kani looks at an exciting concept by Te Aitanga a Hauiti, who are keeping their heritage alive for future generations.

Culture is blooming in Tairawhiti, where iwi and communities are creating innovative ways of revisiting their histories, language and art. Reporter Shaan Te Kani looks at an exciting concept by Te Aitanga a Hauiti, who are keeping their heritage alive for future generations.

TITIRANGI IS THE MOUNTAIN: Te Aitanga a Hauiti whanau gather on Hoturangi, and look to their maunga Titirangi, at the launch of Te Ahika: Our Story, Our Voice, Our Place. Picture by Krystal Garrett
CELEBRATING COMMUNITY: Community leaders Dr Wayne Ngata and Alison Waru, Te Ahika chairperson Victor Walker, Te Ahika co-ordinator with artist Rina Kerekere and artist Tai Kerekere at the Te Ahika launch at Hauiti Marae. In the background is one of the pop-up art installations that pays homage to the various groups of the community. Pictures by Liam Clayton
THE STORY OF UAWA: Hana Parata-Walker with fopur-year-old daughter Tawhipare Te Purei check out an art installation.
Residents admire one of the pieces during Te Ahika: Our Voice, Our Story, Our Place.
Tolaga Bay Area School student Loma Sidney Hill and teacher Hoana Forrester, with images from the Nga Pakiwaitara photographic exhibition. The images taken by students and teachers feature people of the Uawa community in large posters around the Tolaga Bay township. Picture by Liam Clayton
Te Ahikā -
Te Ahikā - Al Hutchinson, Stephen Donald
Te Ahika
Te Ahika

WHEN the ancestors of Te Aitanga a Hauiti arrived in Uawa many generations ago, they lit ‘Te Ahika’, the long burning fire, at the cove of Opoutama (Cook’s Cove).

They named the place after an event in Hawaiki, the ancestral homeland. The fire signalled their arrival and a new life in their new home. Over the generations the flames of that heritage remained alight through a continued growth of the people and their stories.

Today the fire continues to burn and is being reimagined through a special project called “Te Ahika: Our Voice, Our Story, Our Place”. The initiative is being driven by Te Aitanga a Hauiti iwi and the Uawa community, and was launched at Hauiti Marae in Uawa, Tolaga Bay last week.

It has all of the hallmarks to celebrate the heritage and aspirations of the people and the area. But what makes it unique is that it is not one-dimensional. Te Ahika showcases the stories of Uawa past and present through various platforms: large-scale sculptures at significant heritage sites, exhibitions, outdoor pop-up art installations, digital recreations, environmental projects, workshops, gatherings and events.

These will be presented over the next two years as a build up to the 250th anniversary of the first encounters between Maori and Europeans in 1769, when Captain James Cook and his crew of The Endeavour arrived in the district.

A creative and innovative approach is embedded throughout the many aspects of Te Ahika, and is reflective of the characteristics and spirit of the Hauiti people, said Te Ahika chairperson Victor Walker. He said Te Ahika sets out to continue this legacy which comes from the renowned ancestral house of learning, Te Whare Wananga o Te Rawheoro.

Hingangaroa

It was established by the ancestor Hingangaroa, and it is the words of Rangiuia, one of the last great tohunganui (senior adept) of Te Rawheoro, that has left a lasting impression.

“Over 170 years ago, Rangiuia was quite clear in his touchstone statement that, ‘creativity and innovation flourished my friend in Uawa — Ka tipu te whaihanga, e hika, ki Uawa’.

“As you enter Uawa from the north and south you will be greeted by the new Te Ahika signage which is emblazoned with the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti pepeha, the flame of Te Ahika and the statement from Rangiuia.

“Te Ahika is about reimagining the House of Te Rawheoro. It is an opportunity for Te Aitanga a Hauiti and Uawa to explore, engage and participate in this kaupapa that requires creativity and innovation,” Victor said.

This is evident in Nga Pakiwaitara, a photographic exhibition by Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui students, and the community.

The exhibition has large-scale images displayed on buildings around the township, and showcases the people and their way of life.

Digital technology enables viewers to listen to short stories associated with each image via a QR code.

Smartphone or iPhone

The code is printed next to each photograph and is activated by scanning it with a smartphone or iPhone.

Scanning is enabled by simply downloading an app for a QR Scanner.

These digital stories also provide historical information about the places of the area and encourage visitors and locals to traverse a virtual search of the images.

Another exhibition by the students, “He Kakano — A Seed”, is on display at the township’s Reynolds Hall.

It is an integration of science and arts and shows the research that students have done on seeds as part of a project called Project Uawanui.

The work is a result of a discussion with Massey University, in relation to the students participating in the national Indigenous Seed Bank Project.

Using different media, the students have created innovative art pieces that demonstrate their understanding of concepts such as animal seed dispersal and plant DNA, among others.

Linking in with this, is the Uawanui Sustainability Project, which is shared vision of the community for the management of the Uawa catchment and coastline.

Outdoor pop-up art installations have already sprouted up around the community with triptych pieces, or works of art on three panels, on display.

Paying homage

The pieces are based on pou imagery and pay homage to the various groups of people within the community, such as the armed services. One particular triptych piece features three pou of servicemen — including the army, navy and airforce.

Another project is Te Koha Tuatahi, which looks to digitally recreate the carved poupou Te Pou o Hinematioro.

The ancestress Hinematioro gave the pou to the crew of the Endeavour and it is now held in Tubingen, Germany.

The vision of the long burning fire will be reinvented through a sculptural artwork called the Beacons of Light, which will be installed at Hoturangi, overlooking Tolaga Bay. It is described as a tall structure, much like a pou, and will feature lights.

During the launch over a hundred people from the community including Tolaga Bay school children walked up to the site, where they were greeted by a pohiri and wero by Kahukuranui students.

This was followed by a blessing of the site by the Bishop of Tairawhiti, Don Tamihere.

It was a massive finish to the launch, which began with an impressive powhiri at Hauiti Marae earlier in the day.

And many hands were on board to ensure that every aspect of the event was covered.

From the ringawera (cooks), who prepared kai to the people who put up the billboards and artwork around town.

In order for these projects to come to life, many people are required to make it happen, said Victor.

“We have a really committed committee who have a huge reach into the community.

“And every sector of the iwi has contributed.

“Tamariki and whanau have all been involved. It has been a massive effort.”

Te Aitanga a Hauiti leader Dr Wayne Ngata said Te Ahika was a great way of bringing Uawa whanau and community together to keep the fire burning for the future generations.

“Te Ahika brings us together to celebrate ourselves. We are able to show and express that in various ways, one of which is through art. “But art is not art alone, art is knowledge. And that legacy comes from the house of Te Rawheoro, from Hingangaroa.

“We need to ensure that we visit and revisit these histories, to reinforce our whakapapa.

“We have around five generations here alone at the launch and a lot of the work has been carried out by the parents and adults.

“But Te Ahika is an investment, and it is the mokopuna who will own it.”

WHEN the ancestors of Te Aitanga a Hauiti arrived in Uawa many generations ago, they lit ‘Te Ahika’, the long burning fire, at the cove of Opoutama (Cook’s Cove).

They named the place after an event in Hawaiki, the ancestral homeland. The fire signalled their arrival and a new life in their new home. Over the generations the flames of that heritage remained alight through a continued growth of the people and their stories.

Today the fire continues to burn and is being reimagined through a special project called “Te Ahika: Our Voice, Our Story, Our Place”. The initiative is being driven by Te Aitanga a Hauiti iwi and the Uawa community, and was launched at Hauiti Marae in Uawa, Tolaga Bay last week.

It has all of the hallmarks to celebrate the heritage and aspirations of the people and the area. But what makes it unique is that it is not one-dimensional. Te Ahika showcases the stories of Uawa past and present through various platforms: large-scale sculptures at significant heritage sites, exhibitions, outdoor pop-up art installations, digital recreations, environmental projects, workshops, gatherings and events.

These will be presented over the next two years as a build up to the 250th anniversary of the first encounters between Maori and Europeans in 1769, when Captain James Cook and his crew of The Endeavour arrived in the district.

A creative and innovative approach is embedded throughout the many aspects of Te Ahika, and is reflective of the characteristics and spirit of the Hauiti people, said Te Ahika chairperson Victor Walker. He said Te Ahika sets out to continue this legacy which comes from the renowned ancestral house of learning, Te Whare Wananga o Te Rawheoro.

Hingangaroa

It was established by the ancestor Hingangaroa, and it is the words of Rangiuia, one of the last great tohunganui (senior adept) of Te Rawheoro, that has left a lasting impression.

“Over 170 years ago, Rangiuia was quite clear in his touchstone statement that, ‘creativity and innovation flourished my friend in Uawa — Ka tipu te whaihanga, e hika, ki Uawa’.

“As you enter Uawa from the north and south you will be greeted by the new Te Ahika signage which is emblazoned with the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti pepeha, the flame of Te Ahika and the statement from Rangiuia.

“Te Ahika is about reimagining the House of Te Rawheoro. It is an opportunity for Te Aitanga a Hauiti and Uawa to explore, engage and participate in this kaupapa that requires creativity and innovation,” Victor said.

This is evident in Nga Pakiwaitara, a photographic exhibition by Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui students, and the community.

The exhibition has large-scale images displayed on buildings around the township, and showcases the people and their way of life.

Digital technology enables viewers to listen to short stories associated with each image via a QR code.

Smartphone or iPhone

The code is printed next to each photograph and is activated by scanning it with a smartphone or iPhone.

Scanning is enabled by simply downloading an app for a QR Scanner.

These digital stories also provide historical information about the places of the area and encourage visitors and locals to traverse a virtual search of the images.

Another exhibition by the students, “He Kakano — A Seed”, is on display at the township’s Reynolds Hall.

It is an integration of science and arts and shows the research that students have done on seeds as part of a project called Project Uawanui.

The work is a result of a discussion with Massey University, in relation to the students participating in the national Indigenous Seed Bank Project.

Using different media, the students have created innovative art pieces that demonstrate their understanding of concepts such as animal seed dispersal and plant DNA, among others.

Linking in with this, is the Uawanui Sustainability Project, which is shared vision of the community for the management of the Uawa catchment and coastline.

Outdoor pop-up art installations have already sprouted up around the community with triptych pieces, or works of art on three panels, on display.

Paying homage

The pieces are based on pou imagery and pay homage to the various groups of people within the community, such as the armed services. One particular triptych piece features three pou of servicemen — including the army, navy and airforce.

Another project is Te Koha Tuatahi, which looks to digitally recreate the carved poupou Te Pou o Hinematioro.

The ancestress Hinematioro gave the pou to the crew of the Endeavour and it is now held in Tubingen, Germany.

The vision of the long burning fire will be reinvented through a sculptural artwork called the Beacons of Light, which will be installed at Hoturangi, overlooking Tolaga Bay. It is described as a tall structure, much like a pou, and will feature lights.

During the launch over a hundred people from the community including Tolaga Bay school children walked up to the site, where they were greeted by a pohiri and wero by Kahukuranui students.

This was followed by a blessing of the site by the Bishop of Tairawhiti, Don Tamihere.

It was a massive finish to the launch, which began with an impressive powhiri at Hauiti Marae earlier in the day.

And many hands were on board to ensure that every aspect of the event was covered.

From the ringawera (cooks), who prepared kai to the people who put up the billboards and artwork around town.

In order for these projects to come to life, many people are required to make it happen, said Victor.

“We have a really committed committee who have a huge reach into the community.

“And every sector of the iwi has contributed.

“Tamariki and whanau have all been involved. It has been a massive effort.”

Te Aitanga a Hauiti leader Dr Wayne Ngata said Te Ahika was a great way of bringing Uawa whanau and community together to keep the fire burning for the future generations.

“Te Ahika brings us together to celebrate ourselves. We are able to show and express that in various ways, one of which is through art. “But art is not art alone, art is knowledge. And that legacy comes from the house of Te Rawheoro, from Hingangaroa.

“We need to ensure that we visit and revisit these histories, to reinforce our whakapapa.

“We have around five generations here alone at the launch and a lot of the work has been carried out by the parents and adults.

“But Te Ahika is an investment, and it is the mokopuna who will own it.”

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