Port Waikato iwi share Te Winika journey through interactive app

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Port Waikato iwi Ngāti Karewa and Ngāti Tahinga are using technology to share the history of their land with visitors and community members at the Port Waikato holiday park.

Tūwhiri is an app that allows users to follow the journey Te Winika – the ancestral waka of the region.

“It was really important for Ngāti Kārewa and Ngāti Tāhinga to be able to share their history with our guests and visitors that come, and also our community because there is a lot of history in Port Waikato,” one of the park managers, Jade McCormack, says.

The app itself allows visitors to interact with the site on which they stand – by learning the history of the journey of Te Winika, collecting ‘rewards’ on the app and being able to exchange them for real-life rewards such as 20% off park merchandise.

“So they go on a little journey, they go out of the park as well and they collect five chapters around Port Waikato and you learn about the journey of Te Winika.”

Ngati Karewa Ngāti Tahinga Trust was set up in 1989. At that time the park was in council ownership but in 2016, the trust bought it back marking 177 years since it was last in hapu ownership. However, respected kuia and chairperson of Ngāti Karewa Ngāti Tahinga trust Rereokeroa Shaw says the park didn’t come back without a hefty price tag.

“We shouldn't have had to pay anything for it but it cost us two and a half million dollars to get it back into hapū ownership.

“The poupou out front is Ngāti Karewa and Ngāti Tahinga - We put them up to let people know that we are here to stay and that's our stake in the ground that belongs to us,” Shaw says.