Ngāti Kahu Kohanga Reo has risen from the ashes

By D'Angelo Martin

The Ngāti Kahu iwi is delighted its kohanga reo, the place of learning for the descendants of the iwi, has opened.

In 2014 another proposed building for the kohanga, Taipa Kohanga Reo, went up in flames, as a result of arson, and this new one will replace it. 

It has been six years since the last kohanga reo was established and the job ahead is to ensure the tamariki who will attend this Kohanga Reo knows who they are and where they are from. Essentially it will be a learning haven for the descendants of Ngāti Kahu.

Prominent iwi leader and kaikōrero Te Ikanui Kingi-Waiaua says, "Ngāti Kahu have awaited for this kohanga to be approved and to be built for too long, and for it to stand here in Taipa, for Ngāti Kahu, nothing beats it."

Descendants of the fiveMuriwhenua iwi gathered alongside local kohanga reo to show support for the opening of Ngāti Kahu Kohanga Reo. Kohanga kaiako Kahu Tauhara says "Kohanga Reo are very important for our language and culture to survive. It is a safe place for those of all ages to learn and to start their reo journey and also a healthy place for tamariki Māori to thrive."

In 2014 a house in Taipa that was to become a kohanga reo for the iwi was set on fire in an act of arson. Six years later the hopes and wishes of the elders of Ngāti Kahu have now been fulfilled.

The search for a new building was tough, kohanga kaiakoReremoana Renata says. "We disestablished ourselves from Waitaruke Kohanga Reo in 2013. We found another building - it was actually a few houses that were soon to be converted into kohanga."

Now is the time to revitalise the history and waiata of Ngāti Kahu as a source of learning for the kids for them to understand their Ngātikahutanga and what that means.

"You start at kohanga, move on to kura kaupapa and wharekura, then the choice is yours after that.  Ngāti Kahu want to support that pathway of learning, from the likes of Hone Harawira and his wife Hilda, who have been active leaders in the success of kura kaupapa here in the Far North. We want to follow that example,"  Kingi-Waiaua says.

Although this year is coming to an end, the teachers of the kohanga will be in full planning mode, ensuring there will be an abundance of learning resources for the kids.