Developing meaningful relations with tangata whenua
Tiaki taiao (red) by Ani-Oriwia Adds (source).
What does it mean to respect Kaitiakitanga, the active stewardship and guardianship of the land within Māori traditionally systems of resource management? I would like to understand the notions of Mana Whenua, Kaitaiakianga and Te Ao Taiao more fully but appreciate this can only come through developing meaningful relationships with tangata whenua in my locale.
I have approached Jo Greenman, WCC forest warden for East Harbour Regional Park to ask permission from both the council, and from those who hold mana whenua, if I may do this project on the living forest of East Harbour. Jo replied that as long as nothing is removed or damaged I do not need permission and explained that while the Northern Forest part of East Harbour Regional Park does not have a highly involved Mana whenua, she is happy to help me make contact with the Rōpū Tiaki who she works closely with in regard to the Parangarahu lakes and Orua Pouanui/Baring head.
I am currently writing a letter for Rōpū Tiaki (Tiaki means to care for people and place). Te Atiawa hold mana whenua in Wellington and the Hutt Valley - Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika. The rōpū is composed of representatives from local marae in Wellington and the Hutt Valley and from Port Nicholson Block Trust. Local Hutt Valley marae are Kōkiri Marae in Seaview, Waiwhetū Marae, Te Tatau o Te Pō Marae in Alicetown, and Wainuiōmata Marae.
As part of my art project I am hoping to create space for a Māori perspective and voice. This is very important, not just because of Mana Whenua, but also because the forest is bound by two suburbs - Eastbourne (a community predominantly of European New Zealanders and 5.4% Māori ethnicity in 2018 census) and Wainuiomata (a community with 28% Māori ethnicity in 2018 census).
I am interested in both the forest as a whole as well as the small intimate places it offers us. I would like to make a video of four 'rooms' of the forest - safe, secret places that people who care for, and about the forest go to and feel a deep connection with. As the forest is bound by both Eastbourne and Wainuiomata, it would be helpful to find people from both Eastbourne and Wainuiomata who live beside the forest and would be interested in sharing their space, what it means to them, and what they hope for the forest in the future. Given the ethnicity of Eastbourne's population is significantly one of European New Zealanders, I hope that this approach might create space for a Māori perspective.
This is the letter for Roopu Tiaki -