Māori stories of arrival recognised

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A major art installation at the Puhi Kai Iti Wānanga site in Turanga Nui a Kiwa is providing a platform for local iwi Ngati Oneone to share their story and balance out colonial history.

Ngāti Oneone artist Nick Tupara said, "In the past they've never really been close to this place, many of them have never visited here, because they simply didn't have a presence and now they feel like this is our place we can come here we can bring our tamariki and mokopuna and our whānau and enjoy this space, and have our stories told and feel safe to do that in a town where most of the dialogue has only been around Cook”.

Just feet away is the monument to Captain Cook. It is an artistic memorial to the nine Māori who were shot by the Endeavour crew.

“We know that when Te Maro was shot the crew left a blue tray bead on his tīnana and that's reflected in that colour, the others are a fiery orange-red colour and that reflects the fire stick that shot at them”.

Made through many hands in the community, the symbols represent Māori lineage that is specific to the site.

“Around Ikaroa are all our key waka traditions for the Tairāwhiti going from Māui and Nukutaimemeha all the way around to Ikaroa a Rauru, which was the waka of Maia that actually landed here at this place”.

Behind the build, Tupara is pleased with the result.

“Now we have a better understanding of 1000 years of all those tīpuna who came to this place and decided okay we'll make this our home and for an artist that's a pleasing achievement from my perspective anyway”.

Another public art installation about the aforementioned ancestor Te Maro who was slain will be unveiled in the near future.