Ngāti Manu rangatahi head to Taiwan for cultural exchange

By Regan Paranihi

Ten children from Ngāti Manu, a small sub-tribe in Te Taitokerau, have been given the opportunity to travel to Taiwan to trace the footsteps of their ancestors on a cultural exchange.

The group departed for Taiwan on Tuesday and will stay with the local indigenous tribes in remote villages for 10 days. 

Kaumatua o Ngāti Manu Arapeta Hamilton says, “Following the kōrero of the Polynesian migration pathway that began in Taiwan is something that Ngāti Manu want to explore and teach their tamariki about."

The group will explore the similarities of both cultures through language, songs, and traditional dance and will get hands-on experience oh how the Taiwanese gather kai from the land and sea.

Eva Chen Project Co-Director says, "The trip has been supported by the Taiwanese government through the work of Hon. Kolas Yotaka spokesperson to the Executive Yuan who belongs to the indigenous Taiwanese tribe Pangcah alongside the Council of Indigenous People (CIP) Taiwan."

The whānau of Ngāti Manu helped raise money for the trip.

Marareia Hamilton, Project Co-Director, says, “The aim of the trip is to give our tamariki a worldview and show them that they have global connections that are not only limited to the small valley of Karetu.  The reality is that many of our whānau within the North struggle with financial hardship, therefore, our tamariki won't get these types of opportunities"

The exchange is a pilot programme of the Hawaiki Project, a social initiative aimed at connecting indigenous tribes along the Polynesian migration pathway from Taiwan to Aotearoa.

Hamilton says this is a great opportunity for the younger generation to learn and to show the richness of diverse cultures.

"We want our kids to go out into the global stage having a strong sense of cultural identity and to positively showcase our Maori culture.

"The special meaning behind this initiative is to bring long-lasting connections to other indigenous groups, broaden their horizons and strengthen their own indigenous identity in an environment where it is celebrated," says Hamilton.

This will also be the first time some of the indigenous tribes have allowed outsiders to attend their tribal harvest festival.