Digital Whakapapa for Ngāi Te Rangi

By Wena Harawira

The Tauranga iwi authority, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi is digitising genealogy scrolls created by tribal elders more than 60 years ago. 

Kaumātua would regularly gather in the 1950s to write the tribe's whakapapa on scrolls almost 30 metres in length. Over the years these were left in the safekeeping of the Māori Affairs Department, then Te Puni Kōkiri in Tauranga, before being placed in the care of the rūnanga.

"I remember the scrolls being unrolled once on the stage at the Tauranga Moana Māori Trust Board Hall," remembers kaumatua, Dr Hauata Palmer.

"Those koroua of the time would pore over them, discussing names and writing the lineage which begins from Toi Te Huatahi and Kuraimonoa."

Now the scrolls, which are showing signs of wear and tear, are being digitised to preserve the information, amid concerns that the knowledge and its holders are fast disappearing.

Dr Palmer says this will enable each marae and hapū of Ngāi te Rangi to retain and access the genealogy that applies to them.