I te Ara Taonga | On the Road – Whiringa-a-Nuku 2019

Nā Paora Tibble, Kaiwhanake ā-Iwi │Iwi Development Adviser (Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa, Raukawa, Te Whānau a Apanui)

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

It’s a simple whakataukī, nowadays a bit of a cliché. But it’s true, that’s probably why it’s thrashed so much. Travelling around the motu, supporting iwi, hapū, whānau and museums with the taonga in their care, I am constantly reminded of this whakataukī.

Here’s a few of the amazing people I’ve worked with over the last three months.

In mid-September we held a workshop in Tauranga on caring for taonga. Leading up to the event, I was in communication with Yolande Tipuna and Aurere Thatcher. These two amazing women work for their iwi, Ngāi Te Rangi, in the Culture and Heritage unit, which includes archives and research.

Pretty much all my communications with Yolande and Aurere were in te reo Māori. Even the evaluation they created for the workshop was in te reo Māori. You know, there was a time when all these taonga that we care for were woven, carved, created, spoken to, spoken about in te reo Māori. Today, the reo itself is a taonga.

Maungatapu marae was booked for the workshop, but a kaumātua passed away and his tangi was to be held there. So our dynamic duo from Ngāi Te Rangi organised for us to go to Hungahungatoroa Marae in Matapihi.

Yolande, kōrua ko Aurere, i mate kāinga tahi tā tātau kaupapa tiaki taonga ki Maungatapu, ka ora kāinga rua ki Matapihi, ka ora i ā kōrua mahi, he tiaki i ngā taonga, he tiaki i te tangata hoki.

Ngāi Te Rangi workshop attendees at the end of the workshop, with Yolande Tipuna (in middle in pink top) and Aurere Thatcher (4th from left). Photo courtesy of Ngāi Te Rangi

A week later, a team of us travel from Wellington to Whanganui. On the Friday, we get to Kaiwhaiki, there we’re welcomed by Kahurangi Simon and his mum, aunty Kura Simon. Aunty Kura and uncle Morvin were kaumātua for the Te Awa Tupua exhibition, when the people of Whanganui were the iwi in residence at Te Papa.

In their whare, Kiritahi, are photographs of great significance. One is a photo of the Kotahitanga, the Māori Parliament. There were other amazing photos there too. We’ll work with Ngā Paerangi on the care of these images.

Kei te whāea, e Kura, koutou ko Kahurangi, ko Marama, he kitenga kanohi, he hokinga mahara ki te wā i Te Anatipa mā, otirā, ki a rātau te iwi nui kei te pō.

(l – r) Paora Tibble, Kahurangi Simon, Kura Simon, Vicki-Anne Heikell, Migoto Eria, Maarten Holl at Te Kiritahi. Photographer Marama Simon

On the Saturday morning Vicki-Anne Heikell facilitated a workshop at Rutherford Junior High School on the care of paper-based taonga. At this hui, we caught up with Piki Waretini (nee Ponga), who had also spent time at Te Papa as a kaumātua for the Te Awa Tupua exhibition.

Having her present at the workshop just made it that more special, there’s something about having kaumātua around taonga. She shared her experiences, her memories and had this feeling about her. You just felt tau, calm to be in her presence.

E te apa māreikura o Te Awa Tupua, nāhau i tau ai te kaupapa tiaki taonga, ko koe te kanohi ora o rātau mā. Kei te mihi ake!

Piki Ponga alongside her late husband, George Waretini. They were the first kaumātua in residence for the Te Awa Tupua exhibition. Photograph courtesy of Te Papa

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