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Ōku Wheako Whaiaro

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Val Houkamau
16 March, 2021

The journey I had to finish this report was a long one. I had envisioned that I would have been able to have it completed before the end of 2020. Food for thought I would say. I don’t think it was because of my laziness or desire to procrastinate, although, there were plenty of times those intentions arose, however, my collection of data was restricted to my ability of locking down my interviewees (i.e., trying to catch those kaumātuas at the right time). Although, failing at capturing them, I was grateful for both Nanny Raunikau and Papa Campbell whose kōrero were an accolade to the impacts and efforts that unfolded during an uncertain era of history.

Throughout this opportunity project, I am very grateful for the special bond I have created with Nanny Raunikau, who I believe is the eldest kaumātua of our hapū. She turns 90 this year. Her kōrero about women finding themselves and taking on the tasks that prior to 1939 were designated to the menfolk, is a testament to her views of empowering women. It was an amazing opportunity to sit with her and listen to all her kōrero she had to offer. I had visited her four times since January this year, spending over an hour and half each time talking about her memories. Our conversations would go from the impacts of the Second World War, to her being a Home Ed teacher at the marae, teaching the mothers, young women, and girls how to sow, knit and cook, to then sharing her fond memories of joining St Johns and becoming a reverend. Throughout one of my visits, Nanny Raunikau also managed to teach me how to make a rewana bread, starting with preparing the bug. These moments of bonding will hold a special place with me, as I am thankful for Lachy and Angela to have awarded me this scholarship to be able to bond with one of our dearest kaumātua, Nanny Raunikau over her lifetime of stories, but also being able to write a report on my own hapū, where I live in.

Reflecting on the journey to completing my report, I would like to acknowledge Uncle Harawira Craig Pearless who called into my mum and dad’s general store in Wharekāhika, for the kōrero about his research and undertakings towards the remembrance of the veterans who fought in the First and Second World War. His insights about our tīpuna not knowing how to put down or turn off ‘Tūmatauenga’ when they returned home and whether Apirana Ngata’s philosophy of whether “The Price of Citizenship” has been paid was a pivotal moment in our kōrero, as he shared the stories and narratives, he has encountered throughout his researching career. Nō reira, Uncle Harawira if you ever see this, I thank you for our kōrero we had and appreciate the wisdom you shared with me.

In concluding my reflection of this project, I would like to pay tribute to my Dad. Although he challenges us (his children) to experience life on our own, he is always there to give us that final advice, guidance, support, love that helps complete whatever task we put our minds to. Dad, thank you for your belief in us and helping me complete the finishing touches to my report based on our soils back home.

“Ngā hapū katoa o Aotearoa e

Tau awhitia rā ko tōku rongo

Kia mau te tihe mauria ora

A ngā tīpuna

Hei tohu wehi e”

           Tuini Ngawai, Arohaina Mai, 1940


Image: Te Wharekāhika Home Guard, [from Lloyd Lawson, Wharekāhika He Tirohanga Hou – The History of Wharekāhika/Hicks Bay Revisited, (Wharekāhika: Lloyd Lawson, c.2017), p.229.]

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