Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu opens in Rarotonga

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu has opened its Rarotonga arm with an aim of strengthening connections to the people of Rarotonga and also reinforcing the genealogical connections between Takitimu and Tākitumu.

Group leader JB Heperi Smith says just how his ancestors left Rarotonga for Aotearoa, in search of a new beginning, so too is opening this wananga.

"Te Wa I wehe atu o matou matua tipuna ki konei mo te aha? He tirohanga ano ki mua mo nga uri whakatupu, no reira kua hoki mai matou ki te kainga, I runga I te karanga a o matou whanau

"Just like the time our ancestors left this place, and why? It was about them having foresight for the following generations. So we’ve returned home at the call of the people here."

Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu Narelle Huata is excited at the opportunity for the wananga to take place here as a way to sustain the language and culture of the people of Rarotonga

“Orite kia matou 'kopu ki te kopu' whakapiki I to ratou reo a ratou haka a tanerore engari kei konei te puna matauranga mo te waka – koira te tino mana mo matou ki te tuwhera I tenei kaupapa.”

Te Waka o Takitimu descendants

“Just like us, the ethos is the same; from the womb to the womb (of Papatuanuku). The aim is to strengthen language and performing arts. The other wealth of knowledge on the island is navigation. That’s the intention of us having a wananga here,” she said.

The opening was also a nod to the work that Narelle Huata’s late father, Tama Turanga Huata, started. She says his life's work was to ensure all descendants of te waka Takitimu know who they are where they come from.

"I whakaaro toku papa, ko te Takitumutanga mai Hamoa, Fiji Tonga, Tahiti Hawai’i Rartonga Ngati Kahu, Ngati Ranginui, Tairawhiti Ngati Kahungunu tae rawa atu ki Ngai Tahu ko tatou katoa nga uri o te Waka o Takitimu

"My dad's thoughts were about Tākitimutanga from Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, Hawai’i, Rarotonga, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Ranginui, Tairāwhiti and Ngāti Kahungungu, even to Ngāi Tahu. They’re all descendants of the waka Tākitimu.

Vaka Takitumu paramount chief Upokotini Pā Marie Ariki is confident that the wānanga will ensure the islands' culture and language and she encourages young people to be a part of the wananga now and into the future.