Ihumātao tamariki play in a "Palace Pā" of pallets

By Aroha Mane
Buchanan Callen by his palace of pallets. Source - File.

What started as a shelter inspired by the ancient tūpuna Hape, has now become what Ihumātao tamariki have named their "Palace Pā."

This fortress for the multitude at Ihumātao protects tamariki from the sun, and gives them a place to play while their whānau occupy the whenua.

“To see their faces light up in here is a real buzz and that's why it had to be really structurally sound,” says Buchanan Callen (Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara), the mastermind behind the pā.

“Each pallet holds about 100 nails already so when it comes to structural frameworks for pallets. When you've got the weight restrictions that have been put on just a pallet well you've already got a tonne per pallet, that is already structurally designed to hold that weight.”

When his whānau heard about the land occupation at Ihumātao, they packed up and moved from Whangārei.

Once they arrived, they needed to build shelter. Callen explains how Hapes' history inspired him.

“Instead of thinking in the colonised mind of a tiny home build or just enough room for your family, I was thinking Hape had a house that big over there on the maunga. Why can't we have a house that was expanding our minds and not being stuck in a matchbox where you're only allowed to jump this high.”

Callen says he and his family are dedicated to protecting the environment and their lifestyle comes with a lot of perks.

“Well, this side we don't have a letterbox so we don't have a bill. We don't get bills here. We're off the grid, so 100% off the grid when we're here at Ihumātao.

"It's a wānanga of something to disconnect from the urban world where you work like a slave for the basic needs of working for yourself. We live off the land we gather the resources to put on the table.”

As our nation awaits the close of the Ihumātao saga, the palace pā will protect playful tamariki as they make memories for the years to come.