Exploring how to be kaitiaki, or guardians, of Titirangi maunga/Kaiti Hill was the aim of a special wananga based at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae at the weekend.
In a bid to bring the community together, Matariki Hunga Nui was a two-day wananga that celebrated the Maori New Year and taiao (natural environment) on and around the maunga.
The wananga was led by Whaia Titirangi — a holistic partnership between Ngati Oneone and Gisborne District Council to care for Titirangi.
Weed management is a large component of the project but it also aims to help whanau and the community learn about what is in their backyard, and how to be kaitiaki of the environment.
Night bush walks on Titirangi, setting pest traps, native tree planting and making traditional Maori medicine were some of the activities over the weekend.
The wananga also highlighted topical issues for tangata whenua (people of the land) in relation to the taiao.
Kaitiaki and marine specialist Ian Ruru delivered a korero (talk) about New Zealand’s largest crayfish nursery rua koura, which is located in the inner harbour and is under threat from a proposed expansion of Eastland Port.
Ian Ruru is a spokesman for the iwi collective of Ngati Oneone, Ngati Porou Fisheries, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa, who are opposing the expansion, citing the protection of rua koura (crayfish) as one of the reasons.
The idea of Matariki Hunga Nui wananga came about after Jordan Tibble and Mihikura Te Pairi of Whaia Titirangi were inspired by a bio-blitz event they attended at Tikitiki.
“Our girls were motivated to run a similar event here,” said project manager Ranell Nikora.
“Aside from weed management and planting, they followed other kaupapa to do with the taiao.
“One of their big kaupapa this year was rongoa (Maori medicine), which they have been learning about through Te Wananga o Aotearoa.”
The pair were excited to share the knowledge they gathered.
“It was really rewarding to put into practice what we have been working really hard towards over the past few months,” said Jordan. To connect with people from environmental to spiritual backgrounds made our wananga inspiring and motivating.”
“I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and that they each walk away with one new piece of knowledge they can add to their kete (basket) and also pass on to others,” said Mihikura.
The wananga was one of two kaupapa at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae over the weekend.
The other was a te kohanga reo DIY, which saw the relocation of Te Kohanga Reo o Te Tihi O Titirangi to the whare that sits next to the marae meeting house.
“It’s wonderful how we can come together on our various kaupapa and work together as a whanau,” said Ranell.
“We had great support from the hapu and wider whanau.
“Nanny Kuini Reedy also composed a karakia (prayer) and waiata (song) for our kaupapa — just another example of matauranga Maori (Maori knowledge) being shared.
“We will definitely be holding more wananga in future. We’re only just getting started.
“It’s about making those connections for our tamariki (children) and our whanau back to the maunga, and back to the whenua (land).”