Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti are hosting a group of Tahitians from Mahina and Ra’iātea in a cultural exchange, honouring their ancestor Tupaia who navigated the Endeavour to Aotearoa in 1769. The occasion has been marked with the unveiling of a significant art installation acknowledging ahi kā.
Speaking on behalf of the iwi, Victor Walker says, “This relationship began when Tupaia arrived here on the Endeavour, he was the ocean navigator, the land navigator, the celestial navigator who led them here.”
When Tupaia arrived at Ōpoutama aboard the Endeavour, he was welcomed by the leaders of Te Aitanga a Hauiti.
“They [those leaders] were Te Whakatatare o Te Rangi and Hinematioro. The Tahitians today have also brought large carvings to remember their ancestor Tupaia, to connect the intertwined lineage today”, says Walker.
Representing the long-burning home fires of occupation by Te Aitanga a Hauiti, an imposing 12m installation designed by Mark Kopua erected upon Hoturangi mountain.
Walker explains that “The name is Te Pourewa, because of the island where Hinematioro lived in her time not far from here from Titirangi mountain.”
The installation is a platform for the stories of the Hauiti people to be seen and heard.
“The essence is ahi kā (undisturbed and eternal occupation), when our ancestors arrived the home-fires were lit, it's a symbol that we were here, and here we remain today”, says Walker.
Through an exchange of taonga, the two indigenous groups honour and maintain their connection.