Waka Huia 2016 Waitangi Special, Six kaumātua from around NZ provide insights on six topics


Kaumātua share their thoughts on contemporary issues
Māori face. The environment Politics Education Development Language and Customs Leadership Māori leadership can be found
in places like this boardroom, on the marae and in tribal forums. It’s difficult finding
the right leader with vision and integrity. It’s a constant challenge
facing Māori. 71-year-old Nora Rameka
was brought up during a time when leaders were raised
by the community. Now she is a leader of Ngāti Rēhia
and reveals her own philosophies about what makes a good leader
and why. A true leader to me is a person
who loves and respects their people, especially their sub-tribe. She is the spiritual guardian
of the Mataatua Canoe. We are currently sitting
by Tākou River, the final resting place
of the Mataatua Canoe. This is the foundation of Ngāpuhi. Her greatest achievement is restoring
the historic Ngāti Rēhia Marae, Whetū Marama, at Tākou Bay. I’ve had it said to me:
‘I’m the boss! You’re just a woman.’ I didn’t like that. So I said: ‘Up yours!’ I didn’t pay him any attention. I’ve reached an age where I don’t
worry about those things anymore. There are some people out there
who are plain hopeless, who put others down,
when in fact, they are inept. That’s how I see it,
so I pay them no mind. Nora Rameka was the first Māori employed by the Trade Union
Education Authority. The union recognised her talents
and sent her too Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A leader is a person who is open and understands what it is
to be honest. When a person stands to speak,
you can tell if they’re insincere. You can also tell
if they’re a leader or not. You can also tell if someone’s
just a show off. I can usually tell right away
if a person is a leader or not. She also helped bring
the Ngāti Rēhia Tribunal claim to the table. Times have changed. I believe that we must adjust
how we think to suit the present. We don’t live
like our ancestors did. They didn’t have as many concerns because foods like fish,
pipi and oysters were abundant. That has all changed. Everything
is now predominantly Pākehā, and most of us have to work
in Pākehā environments. Real leaders need only speak once
to the sub-tribe, tribe or family. Once they spoke, it was a done deal. Nothing else needed to be said. Leaders may debate
amongst themselves, but when they reach a conclusion,
it is done. Even if they had to deliberate
through the night, they would reach a conclusion. Back then, the priority
was to protect the land and plan how to stop it
from falling into Pākehā hands. Do we stay here and occupy the land
or move away to be bread winners? You don’t see these things nowadays. Times have changed,
as I see it. For over 30 years,
Nora Rameka has worked for her iwi where she says
real leadership is grown. When I think about the people
I consider leaders, they were chosen by the old people. It did not come out of school. The leaders of home were true leaders
who worked alongside the elders, they were nurtured by the elders. Then when they reached old age,
they become they become leaders. These are the people
I consider to be leaders. You weren’t
to just take their teachings without returning to do your part. I have seen people approach elders
wanting information. Once they get what they want, they don’t want anything
to do with their elders. What is the difference
with the leaders of today? The difference is we
have been educated. That’s the big difference. If you talk to our former leaders, they’d finish school
when they were 8 or 10 years old, but they had a firm grounding
in the old Māori teachings. These days, my generation,
we’re different. Some went to school,
and it changes the way you think. Some became lawyers, or were
educated in other professions. So a different kind of education
has become the norm. Unlike those leaders in our past. Their knowledge was beautiful
and easy to understand. She’s built homes, campgrounds, and bought low cost medical care
to her people. I am most happy when I
am drinking tea and with my husband. I look out over our lands
and think – just beautiful. My husband has always said to me:
‘What makes you happy, do it.’ I respond: ‘When I say to you no,
you always insist yes!’ What is the perfect example
of a leader to you? God. It’s a fine day today,
so we should catch a big fish. Climate Change
and the Emissions Trading Scheme are some of the big environmental
issues for all NZ’ers. Do you think this is the spot where we’ll catch
lots of fish today? – Yep. Awesome. Our next speaker is Rapata Kopae
from Ngāti Pūkeko. He is a guardian
of the environment in Whakatāne. His message is simple – if we don’t look after
the environment, we’ll be sorry. This is a perfect example
of how the land is being poisoned. Just a few years ago,
you could get pūha anywhere. There was pūha
everywhere you looked. But not any more. Weeds don’t grow in the cornfields because there are
too many toxins in the land. Rapata Kopae is the bare-footed
dreadlocked man from Poroporo, just west of Whakatāne. Working in the kitchen,
we see the effects of poison. Food cannot grow on the land because farmers are releasing
too much poison. 30 years ago, he moved back home. He’s seen first hand
the damage to the environment. Our land is being polluted
in this modern age. Our attitude towards our environment
is destroying it, Pākehā people
and Māori people alike. That’s the truth. This river looks
totally different now. When I was a child,
there were more trees, and the river water was so clear
that you could see the fish. Now, because people do not think,
the river has become polluted and the water quality is poor. The idea is simple
regarding caring for the land – if the land dies,
so will the people. I can’t help but think
about my grandchildren’s generation; If the environment dies,
who will care for the children? That’s why I’m so passionate
about the environment. I am one of the caretakers
of Moutohorā Island, and many marae of Ngāti Rangataua
and Ngāti Pūkeko. I am also one of the caretakers
of Ōpihi Whanaungakore, the burial site
of our ancestors. For more than a decade, he has fought the Council,
and his own people, to stop development
on the marina in Whakatāne. According to the last gravedigger
who used to transport bodies from the other side of the river
there to Ōpihi, this was the first burial site when the Mataatua Canoe
arrived here. That’s why it is important – It was the first burial site
of this district. The spirits of Wairaka,
Toroa and Muriwai are still here. That’s the significance. The regional council now wants to build houses
and a marina on our river. We don’t agree to that one bit. I said to the council that they don’t know
the environment intimately, but we do. So they must return the land to us,
the local people, the people who feel the pain
the land feels. The secret to the health of the land
lies in Māori hands. If there are so many people involved
in environmental initiatives… It would be beneficial for the
environmentalists in the country to meet and discuss ways
to sustain our environment for the years to come,
for future generations. My hope for the land is that a leader will rise
from the next generation who will bring life to the land. But the biggest threat
to the lands here are corn farmers and the poisons
they use on the land. When we watch TV,
it’s noticeable that our gods, Tāwhirimatea (God of Wind),
and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother), are fighting back
because humans have been careless. The environment is fighting back. For over 10 years,
I’ve been presenting Te Karere. For over 10 years,
I’ve been with you. I’ve also been fortunate enough
to interview some of our leading experts
on various issues. They’re thought provoking, inspiring and passionate
about our Māori world. Mere Broughton is passionate
about our Māori world. She believed that everything
Maori do is political. She lived in Taranaki and was a staunch advocate
of Māori independence. She never liked
the term ‘tōrangapū’. It’s a foreign word. The thing with words like this is that they’re made
to brainwash people. But she was
as political as they come. This generation is different. They are able to find
the correct word to suit Mauri. We are Mauri, not Māori. The foreigners didn’t know
how to pronounce the word Mauri. This is the best way
to make this medicine; Add it to the boiled water
from the kettle in a cup. The 75-year-old worked
for health, education,
the revival of Māori culture, and the retention of Māori land. We are currently trying to meet
with the council to return our land. Why should we pay for land
that they stole from us? Return it
so Māori can provide for Māori in truth and honesty. But the elderly must take
a back seat and not take the lead. Our time in the front
has come and gone. Our role is to support from behind, but most elders
don’t agree with that. – Are you one for protests? Yes, for issues
that need to be protested against. I also protest
in our kaumātua meetings. Some men come to the meetings
with their government issues, but I overrule them. They come with their government papers
and tell us we must sign, we must agree. So we read and disagree. Mana is mana, words are words,
treasures are treasures. This is how our land
was lost to Pākehā – some thought that money
was the main currency. No, it is not money. How will we have homes for tomorrow? If we don’t protest,
the problem will not be solved. Pākehā shouldn’t have to guide us. We need to guide ourselves. We must be self-determined. I support that there should
be a Māori seat on the council, although others don’t agree
with the direction we’re heading in. Mere Broughton is a part of the
group fighting for a Māori ward on the council. I believe that we need
to move forward with this issue. We spoke about it in 2014,
and again in 2015 in Ōwai. It’s time
for the younger generation to lead. The time has come for Pākehā
and the government to stand down. Although they don’t agree,
their time is up. New Plymouth is fighting
for a Māori voice on the council. But who will it be? It won’t be an easy job. In that position,
you must be knowledgeable in iwi history
and to question Pākehā. Your job is to be the voice
of Māori, not to go there and say you are the chief. No! You must work together. That is the pinnacle of independent
tribal authority to me. It’s about educating yourself
about our history to be implemented
within current systems, so things are easier
for generations to come. New Plymouth voted
against a Māori Ward in the Council. But politically, she says Māori
must change the way they fight. Independent authority to me
is about my sacredness, my tribe, my drive, my mana
and my chiefly autonomy. These attributes are passed on
to my grandchildren so they have something
to ground them in years to come. Our job is to bring
the hapu together, not tribes, but sub-tribes. In the old days,
there were only sub-tribes, but some conformed to
the Pākehā notion of tribes. It divided us,
and continues to do so. I compare it to the weather – it rains, then it’s fine,
it rains, then it’s fine again. Back then, sub-tribes held the
authority to rally their members. The sub-tribe needs to be strong
for the tribe to function properly. The sub-tribe
must always be the priority. But it was the government who decided to discuss land issues
with iwi, and some sub-tribes missed out
in the discussion process. Take the Northland tribes,
for example – it’s no good. Lucky Winston is there
to man the fort. Negotiating with the Crown
is futile, she says. Māori must make their own stand. We shouldn’t be fighting
with Pākehā. They don’t listen. Look at what’s happening to the
ocean – what are they digging? When they don’t hit oil,
they dig for the sake of digging. Look at the ship in Tauranga Moana,
it’s no good. It’s toxic! Mauri are capable
of taking care of ourselves, we just need the right leaders. I believe it is the next generation
who will step up to lead and hold the authority to speak about issues
concerning all Māori. Now is the time. Come! Let’s go to that tree. Yay! Maiana-Sam, let’s read a book. What does Dad have in his hands? – Ice cream! Ice cream. – It’s not good for you, eh? Observe to gain enlightenment,
participate to feel the essence. That’s what my daughter and I
are doing this morning – We’re enjoying reading together,
expanding her mind. What’s this? – A book! A book. Our next speaker is Awi Riddell
of Ngāti Porou. He was raised in Te Puia and has
moulded generations of young minds. Oh, what’s this? – A pig. What sound does a pig make? You’re a pig! – No! You’re a pig! In the East Coast settlement
of Te Puia was where Awi Riddell spent his formative years. We had a huge family!
14 brothers and sisters. Awi Riddell began
his life-long pursuit of the best education
for Māori students. I have seen the cure
and we must fight for it. We must fight to help our children
achieve their dreams and the dreams of their parents
and forefathers. We can assist them with education. He was a student, a teacher and a
principal at Māori boarding schools. I’m impressed by some of the young
men from boarding school. They did well in their learning. Even when they were at school, it was understood
that they would be leaders, the managers and the chiefs
of tomorrow. Many boarding schools
are closing down, and 95% of our children
are in mainstream schools. The majority of our children
attend low decile schools, like the schools here in South
and West Auckland, Porirua and Wainuiōmata. But the system
hasn’t been supportive. When I worked
at the Ministry of Education, the biggest role I had was to
establish Kura Kaupapa Māori. It was a difficult task because a lot of my Pākehā friends
in the Ministry wanted to invest more in establishing
other specialised schools, not Kura Kaupapa Māori. I was livid with them. As an adviser to the MOE, he knows from experience
the signs of a bad school. If you go into a staffroom, you will immediately see
if it is a good school or not. The energy of the school is set
by how the teachers are at rest. When you walk into that room,
you get the mood of the school. Secondly, if the principal says good things about the children
and their staff, it’s a good indication. It’s bad if they speak ill
of the children and have no aspirations for them. The common denominator
amongst great schools was one thing. A great school start,
firstly, with the principal. Secondly, the principal,
and thirdly, the principal. He’s been involved
with hundreds of schools across NZ. He believes the best Māori students
are taught in Taradale, Napier with high spirits
and high academic achievement. A great school for me
is St Josephs Māori Girls’ College in Napier. I visited that school many times
when I was at Te Aute. The reason it’s good
is its Principal, Georgina Kingi. She is one of the best headmasters. She has a great spirit,
she’s educated, and it’s the way
she carries herself. She’s a great example
to her students. The school continues to practice the
teachings of the Catholic Church – the girls continue
to sing beautifully. Māori is still spoken in the school. The pass rate for exams continues
to be at a high standard. They excel in sports. They have everything. The school has one of
the smallest rolls in the country, but they are setting the example. I’ve lived in Auckland for 20 years, and I’ve seen many changes
in the skyline. It has changed dramatically. They are taller. It’s development, and it’s happening
all over the country. It’s a hard call for tribes to make – do we use our land to make money
and provide jobs, or do we just sell it? Our next speaker is Margaret Mutu, the chairperson of Te Rūnanga
ā-iwi o Ngāti Kahu Ngāti Kahu have been negotiating
with a Chinese group who bought land
on one of their beaches. Here’s what she had to say. Ngāti Kahu have never had
a good relationship with the Crown. The Crown have always wanted
Ngāti Kahu to cede our authority. Our tribe throughout our region
will never agree to that. There are a few who would like
to work with the Crown, but they are very few. They have never come
to Ngāti Kahu. They have never been
to any meetings or spoken with any families
or subtribes about our claims settlement. In 2008, the Far North
District Council awarded a resource consent
to an American developer. We had heard
that an American developer had been scoping out our region. We knew he was coming. But he was not an honest man. He applied for resource consent
from the local council, but not at any stage
did he consult with us. It’s a huge piece of land –
over 1700 acres. For years, Pākehā
have wanted to build houses there, with a resort and an airstrip. The developer wanted to build houses
on a sacred land block without consulting Ngāti Kahu. He told us he would come
and consult with us, but he didn’t. Then he told the council
he had spoken with us. We had been fighting him
for a while. We then took the case
to the Supreme Court. Be honest. Ngāti Kahu have
authority over this land. We will always have authority. That will never change. If you do not have authority,
you do not have any say. The development to build
the houses did not go ahead, and the land was sold
to a Chinese company. When we heard that the land
had been sold to a Chinese national, we wanted to engage with them. We’ve always worked well
with the Chinese. Chinese philosophies
are more aligned with Māori. The Chinese contingent arrived
at Pārakerake in 2013. The difference between the Chinese
and American developers was obvious, as was the difference
between the Chinese and Pākehā. The Chinese wanted
to sit and talk with us. They also asked what we thought
and what we wanted. Unlike the American developer, the Chinese developers
have fully engaged with Ngāti Kahu. We gave the Chinese 12 or 13 points
that we wanted addressed. They agreed to all of them. Our biggest issue was the sacred
land and how to deal with it. Taite’s cave
was one of our sacred places. The Chinese agreed,
unlike Pākehā, who didn’t agree. Pākehā do not believe
in sacred places. The Chinese understood. They worked with us
on every aspect and came to tell us what they agreed to
and asked what we agreed to. It was wonderful. They then said: ‘We want you to understand
and see what our world views are.’ ‘So we invite you to China.’ ‘Come to Shanghai and stay with us.’ ‘Come and learn
about the Chinese world.’ So eight of us answered the
invitation and went to Shanghai. Every time we have met with them
to talk, its been so easy. If something is bothering us, we go straight
to the Chinese and talk about it. They are very understanding. They understand that they are visitors
to this country, and that we have authority
over our lands. The development
is currently on hold, but Margaret Mutu says consultation
between the Chinese and Ngāti Kahu will continue. The first language
of our children is te reo. They’ve never known any other. Let the language flow, let it be correct
let it be concise. We must speak our language all day,
every day. Our next speaker
was raised in Tuhoe, but has spent the last 50 years teaching Te Reo and culture
in the Hawkes Bay. When he was young, he was not permitted
to visit marae in the Ruatoki Valley. When we were children, we weren’t allowed to go
to the marae to annoy the elders. But some were chosen
to sit alongside the elders. Kids like me,
the incompetent ones, were told: ‘Go elsewhere and play,
don’t disrupt us here.’ But he still went back there
for training. Those were the instructions
of our elders. If they came across a bright child, they would take that child
under their wing. You can see today
who those children were. Now and again, I laugh to myself
because in my line of work, I actually decide
who’s best suited for the job. People may have already prepared
their speeches, or there may only be two or three
speakers on the bench. However, I prefer to arrange
the topics for everyone’s speeches so they don’t clash
or become repetitive. Many orator’s
tend to repeat themselves. When the deceased
have already been addressed, all you have to do is support the
orator who has addressed the matter. That’s all. This is what happens
if there are two people. If there is only one orator, he will discuss the purpose
of the gathering. That’s assuming he is knowledgeable
in the topic of the gathering. For 60 years,
he has lived in the Hawkes Bay where his main job has been
teaching te reo and traditions. I never ever went
to work in forestry. I became a teacher because
I saw that’s where the solution was to reviving our language
and customs. That’s what I believed. Although I continue
to teach my grandchildren they are only a fraction
of the people. Reaching out to our relations
from all over the country is a lot more effective. I love the thought of taking
our knowledge to our people. That’s how I started. I would stay up working until 1am. Now he is a senior advisor to the
Hawkes Bay District Health Board. I still regard Ruatoki
as my first home because that’s where I learnt
my language and customs. That’s where my elders are,
and no matter what happens, I will never cease
to acknowledge them. Although, some of them said to me ‘Don’t you come back here to take
our Tūhoe customs for Kahungunu.’ That’s what some of my elders
said to me, but I said ‘No.’ ‘It is for myself.’ I still regard that place
as my first home. Living here in the Hawkes Bay has exposed me to the level
of language and customs here. I thought to myself that perhaps
I will be more useful here teaching what I know to my people. The 78-year-old has seen
the language evolve. There are many differences today. The sound of the language
has changed. You can hear when someone
has grown up speaking the language and when one has learnt
out of a book. You can hear the Pakeha influence
in today’s teachings. That’s one of the differences
I have noticed. When some people get up to speak, I know exactly which book
their speech has come from and exactly which page. But at home, you know exactly
who has been trained by the old people because they emulate the way
they spoke so naturally. Those that are hungry to learn
stay for as long as they need to so they grasp the teachings well,
then they move on. These days, many take these teachings
without permission, hoping to reach fame
sooner rather than later. Back in my day, there was no guessing what a Māori
word was for something; it just flowed from the lips. This was how we grew up at home. Nobody asked
‘What’s the word for this?’ It just came. The good thing
about growing up at home is that everyone was familiar
with their environment. Hello, kids! – Hello, Koro Matiu! My body is still fit, plugging away
at my daily activities. I like sitting with the young people because I remember what it is
to be young again. Then I never feel old. – Is that the secret? That’s the secret, my friend! I tell my old mates
‘I don’t want to sit with you. You make me old.’ Six leaders, six subjects
all important to Māori, points to ponder
on this fine weekend. Now it’s back to help my son
catch a fish. Enjoy the long weekend. The longer I worked, the more I saw that these Pākehā
did not appreciate tapu. I thought that perhaps
I needed to compromise instead of being stubborn. I couldn’t just stick
to our Māori traditions.

2 thoughts on “Waka Huia 2016 Waitangi Special, Six kaumātua from around NZ provide insights on six topics”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *