Thousands of community members gathered at the foreshore of Picton Harbour today to welcome the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla – comprising of waka hourua from Aotearoa and Tahiti, the HMB Endeavour replica and the Spirit of New Zealand – with a day full of kapa haka, kōrero and kotahitanga.
They have been four iwi on the Tōtaranui 250 Trust who've worked in equal partnership to organise the event. Those involved today included Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau and Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui.
The event was especially significant for Te Ātiawa since Picton is part of their whenua.
Kuia Rita Powick of Te Ātiawa and Ngāi Tahu was one of the kaikaranga to welcome the manuhiri to shore. She says the welcoming provided an opportunity to teach the community about the background of Te Ātiawa.
“He aha tēnei mea te ao Māori? Me pēhea tērā e ora ana ēnei rā kia taea tātou? Me kī, mokopuna, pakeke, te kite atu ki tenei āhuatanga ki tō mātou ake wāhi. He mea miharo tērā ki a au. He nui ngā painga, he nui.”
The Cultural advisor for Te Ātiawa has been working for four years to help organise the Tuia 250 event in Marlborough.
“Mai te timatanga, tae noa ki tēnei rangi ātaahua, ka pau te ‘au, ka pau te ‘au tō mātou nei ringaringa, ngā waewae. He raupa, He raupa ana.”
For Te Ātiawa, one of their most prominent stories is how their tūpuna travelled from Taranaki in 1080 to Totaranui.
Rita says “I runga i tērā ko ngā hononga mō tātou katoa. Ko te whakaterewaka, ērā āhuatanga mō ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa. Tērā hokinga ana ki tērā momo āhuatanga o te hoe waka o te tati i ngā whetu, te rongo ki ngā tai.”
Te Ātiawa connects with the three hapū, Te Kahui Tū, Te Kahui Rangi and Te Kahui Tawake. These hapū originated from the ancestor Rua Taranaki, the first man to climb Maunga Taranaki. Some of the earliest tāngata whenua to have occupied Totaranui and the surrounding districts came from these three hapū.
Another story is about Ihumoeone, a piece of land who was once a taniwha which relocated from Wairau to Picton. On his way he forged the Koromiko Valley.
“Te uaua pea o tēnei haerenga i pau ana kaha i a ia i tae ki te wai pū o Waitohi ana ka noho ia ki reira, he tohu maumaharangatanga hoki o tērā hononga i waenganui i a tātou o Waikawa, Waitohi ki o tatou nei whanaunga o te Wairau.”
Powick hopes the iwi will continue embracing waka, waiata and te reo Māori.
“Kia taea mātou kia tū pakari ai kia tū Te Ātiawa ai i runga i ngā rā kei mua i a tātou.”
The flotilla is next due to sail to Wairau and Pōneke.