Te Araroa Cultural Mapping Project

A Te Araroa cultural mapping project, involving archaeological information and mātauranga (knowledge) of the people to whom the sites are significant, took centre stage at Historic Places Tairawhiti's recent annual general meeting.

Huia Pacey gives a presentation in front of a screen.
Huia Pacey speaking to the Tairawhiti annual meeting. Credit: Sheridan Gundry, HP Tairawhitiexpand/collapse

Nga Tapuwae o Tātou Tīpuna — In the footsteps of our tīpuna, was one of many projects outlined by guest speaker Huia Pacey, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Ancestral Landscapes Coordinator, who is managing the cultural landscapes projects funded under the governments Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme.

This national programme covers a range of diverse initiatives that support iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori communities to safeguard at risk mātauranga from the ongoing threat of Covid -19. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga received a portion of that funding to support the revitalisation of vulnerable mātauranga in two areas— Ancestral Landscapes and Māori Built Heritage.

Huia talked about projects across the country ranging from gaining knowledge about kumara growing, weaving tāruke (crayfish pots) from supplejack then catching kōura (crayfish), wānanga (education session) about making stone tools, and the standing up of more than 100 carvings from the former Ngāti Ira ancestral house Tanewhirinaki in the eastern Bay of Plenty. She spoke of the kōhatu (stone) on Motiti island just off Tauranga, that enabled people to tell the time of year such as solstice and equinox, and of recording kaumātua (elders) at wāhi tapu (sacred place) to provide information back to marae and schools.

Gisborne kaumātua and Historic Places Tairawhiti member Stan Pardoe also gained a grant from the programme to publish his book, Stories of old Urupā within Tūranganui a Kiwa.

A group of manuhiri (visitors) from Te Araroa, including project leads Hal Hovell and Michelle Wanoa, were on hand to talk about their own project that was launched in January this year at Wharekahika Hicks Bay. They were also joined by Latasha Wanoa and teenage sisters Heni and Maumahara Paringatai-Walker.

The group has been working to map and record 36 pā sites between East Cape and Pukeamaru Range since the 1990s. Several hundred wāhi tapu need recording.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga contestable grant funding has helped get Ngā Tapuwae under way with a close look first at Rangitāne Pā. The aim was to record pā features — palisades, house sites, ford storage pits and terraces.

Sheridan Gundry