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MFA, July 19-25 2021

Making Sea Artwork; Taunaha Whenua (Naming the land); Jen Margaret 'Becoming Pākehā'; Connecting with Tangata Whenua.

1. Artwork Impressions of the Sea

This week I've been focusing on reinterpreting the third element of the Mountain to Sea installation from semester one, 'Sea and Sky'. Dressed in gumboots, the dog and I headed down to the beach just as the tide was changing from a high to an outgoing tide. I placed tissue paper, one at a time, in the shallow surf, allowing the waves to collect the paper into themselves so that they swirled and moved together, tangling in a dance of becoming (too busy to take photos). As the waves receded, the paper remained on the shore, holding memory traces of this moment of encounter.

I sat and waited for the paper to dry, just watching and listening to the motion of the waves and thinking about Rangi Matamua's description of Māori astronomy and the influence of the moon/marama. It occurs to me that the moon's motion is now traced into the tissue paper. And all those swims I've had in the ocean, and the sleepless nights I spent tracking the full moon have meant the moon leaves its trace in me also.


"Woven like a tapestry from the lives of its inhabitants, the land is not so much a stage for the enactment of history, or a surface on which it is inscribed, as history congealed. And just as kinship is geography, so the lives of persons and their histories of relationships can be traced in the textures of the land" (Ingold, 2000, p.150).

"What moves us, what makes us feel, is also that which holds us in place, or gives us a dwelling place. Hence movement does not cut the body off from the “where” of its inhabitance, but connects bodies to other bodies: attachment takes place through movement, through being moved by the proximity of others. (Ahmed, 2004, p.11)

SPACE IS RELATIONAL "A lot of what I’ve been trying to do over the all too many years when I’ve been writing about space is to bring space alive, to dynamize it and to make it relevant, to emphasize how important space is in the lives in which we live, and in the organization of the societies in which we live." (Doreen Massey)

Image sourced from Social Science Space

2. Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land

This is a link to Honiana Love's talk, Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land, suggested to me by friend Jill Phillips. Honiana (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki Iwi, Ngāti Ruanui, and Ngā Ruahinerangi) is Chief Executive at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. She has also worked for Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage and librarian and archivist at Archives New Zealand and Te Reo o Taranaki. Honiana's kōrero was part of the 2020 National Library's Public History Talk Memorials, names and ethical remembering asking, "'How do we remember the past? What place do colonial memorials have in public spaces? How can we better represent diverse histories in the landscape?' "

Honiana's discussion looks at how the naming and claiming of landscapes "defines who we are as a people living in a land". Sharing the many names and stories her iwi gave to the valleys, rivers and mountains of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, and the placement of their pā, kāinga, ngakinga, and urupā, Honiana brings to life a landscape of pre colonial times.

The sorrow of loss is clear - as the names were replaced by settler names, the iwi's presence on the land also disappeared. Honiana relates the loss of inter-generational knowledge following the Native Schools Act 1867 which prohibited the speaking of Te Reo. This loss of knowledge meant Honiana has had to rely on early settler writings to rediscover some of the names her ancestors gave to places.

Despite the loss of presence of her iwi in the western side of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Honiana explained the process of Taunaha (naming a place) signifies a claiming of the site as Tangata Whenua; a claim which has never been broken despite the injustices and loss of land following the1839 New Zealand Company deed of purchase of the Port Nicholson block, the tenths reserves and land confiscations under the native land laws and public works takings. This is summarised in the 2003 Waitangi Tribunal report on the Wellington District: Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa. It makes very sober reading.

Honiana finished by discussing the current revival to reinstate some of her iwi's place names and what this means to her people now and into the future.

For me, Honiana's kōrero opened up a 'dimension of simultaneity' referred to by Doreen Massey, creating a space of multiplicity that fights against the colonial and neoliberal political constructs that reduce differences into 'a single linear history'.

It also makes me wonder about other multiplicities? Are there other stories held in the land of Te Whanganui-a-Tara? Are there voices that have been suppressed, their stories lost or subsumed by succeeding migrations of people? History is complex and Te Whanganui-a-Tara's is especially so. The inter-tribal Musket Wars of the 1810s, 1820s and 1830s had a devastating impact on the Maori population. Honiana referred to Te Ātiawa's history with Ngāti Kahungunu, whose history overlaps Ngāti Ira and Rangitane. Other iwi mentioned in the 2003 Waitangi Tribunal Report on the Wellington District are Ngati Ruanui, Rangitane, Muaupoko, Ngati Toa, Ngati Tama, Ngati Rangatahi, and Ngati Mutunga.

Below is a report by Heather Bishop for the Waitangi Tribunal about the history of Ngati Ira and Rangitane in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara to 1865. The second article is by Carmen Parahi and Ross Giblin about the history of Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitane Waitangi claims. Both articles illustrate the complexity of appreciating history from multiple points of view. One thing is clear though, the New Zealand Company acted dishonourably in its 'purchasing' of land in the Port Nicholson block.

This is the summary of findings written by The Honourable Parekura Horomia Minister of Maori Affairs 16 May 2003, in theTe Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa: Report on the Wellington District, Waitangi Tribunal, 2003 -

"This report concerns claims made by various Maori iwi in respect of the district surrounding Wellington Harbour (Te Whanganui a Tara) and extending to Heretaunga (the Hutt Valley) and the southwest coast. The district, frequently referred to in the 1840s as the Port Nicholson block, encompassed some 209,247 acres. The Wellington Tenths Trust and Palmerston North Reserves Trust, predominantly representing certain hapu of Te Atiawa, Taranaki, and Ngati Ruanui, was the original claimant. However, over a period of years, further claims were brought on behalf of Rangitane, Muaupoko, Ngati Toa, Ngati Tama, Ngati Rangatahi, and Ngati Mutunga. These also became part of our inquiry. In 1839, the New Zealand Company, by a deed of purchase which the Tribunal has found to be invalid, purported to purchase lands in the district under review from some of the Maori chiefs residing at or near the harbour. In reliance on the so-called deed, the company brought to Wellington several thousand settlers who proceeded to occupy, not- withstanding the objections of Maori owners, many of the desirable parts of the district. In

1840, following the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor Hobson and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Crown assumed responsibility for the government of the country. In the executive summary which follows this letter, we note the salient features of our report. These include the failure by the Crown, in numerous instances, to ensure that the Treaty rights of the Maori owners were adequately protected. As a consequence, Maori were wrongly deprived of some 120,000 acres of land which they never consented to surrender and for which they were never paid. They also lost valuable sites in the heart of the capital city. In addition, Maori suffered losses arising from Crown acts or omissions relating to the town belt land, the administration of the Wellington tenths reserves, and the perpetual leasing statutory regime imposed on those reserves. In chapter 19, we have recorded our findings of Treaty breaches by the Crown on a wide range of claims by various of the parties. Apart from a few recommendations made in chapter 19, we recommend that, given the relative complexity of the issues and the inter- relationships of Maori groups affected by Treaty breach findings, the parties should enter into negotiations with the Crown. We consider an important element in remedies granted by the Crown should be the return of land in Wellington city."

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3. Really Becoming Pākehā by Jen Margaret

Jen Margaret's 2019 article Really becoming Pākehā, offers practical and honest material to help me travel along a path towards understanding what it means to be Pākehā. Jen is a Treaty educator and Pākehā of Cornish, Scottish, Danish and German ancestry. Her ancestors arrived in Te Wai Pounamu in the 1860s and Jen was raised near Leeston on the Canterbury Plains, in the rohe of Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki. For her daughter's sake Jen believes it is important "to make the Pākehā side, the 'Pākehā nation', an exciting and honourable place to be." This article offers a way forward for those of us white settlers. She quotes Ani Mikaere:

"There is nowhere else in the world that one can be Pākehā. Whether the term remains forever linked to the shameful role of the oppressor or whether it can become a positive source of identity and pride is up to Pākehā themselves. All that is required from them is a leap of faith."

Jen explores privilege, colonisation and racism and what Pākehā have lost by winning. She quotes Rebecca Solnit who coined the term Privelobliviousness "to describe how being the advantaged one, the represented one, means being the one who doesn’t need to be aware. Which is a form of loss in its own way.” She talks of how being dominant “means seeing yourself and not seeing others” and how, in this way, privilege limits and obstructs imagination. Winning the colonisation race - the race of cultural dominance - has generated huge imbalance and loss. Māori have been the most devastated, yet Pākehā too have been damaged ... Most Pākehā don’t know the events of our history, or our place in them. We don’t know ourselves, our white ways, and we don’t know the ways of this land. We are poorly equipped to act well in the relationships that allow us to be here."

This is Jen's roadmap to becoming 'really Pākehā' (copied from the article for inclusion in exegesis) -

  1. Unravelling privilege — remaking the Pākehā nation "The task of calling things by their true names, of telling the truth to the best of our abilities, of knowing how we got here, of listening particularly to those who have been silenced in the past, of seeing how the myriad stories fit together and break apart, of using any privilege we may have been handed to undo privilege or expand its scope is each of our tasks. It’s how we make the world. "(Rebecca Solnit.)

  2. Learning our stories — responses to Treaty education “The Crown responded to peace with tyranny, to unity with division, and to autonomy with oppression.” (Crown apology to Parihaka, June 2017.)

  3. An amnesty on ignorance “It blows my mind how little I know about the Treaty and its history, despite having grown up in New Zealand. I wish everyone in the country could attend a Treaty workshop!” (Workshop participant.)

  4. Being “really Pākehā” — becoming (small “m”) māori Small “m” māori: normal, usual, natural, common, ordinary (Mā

  5. Everyday gestures “Undoing the social frameworks of millennia is not the work of a generation or a few decades but a process of creation and destruction that is epic in scope and often embattled in execution. It is work that involves the smallest everyday gestures and exchanges and the changing of laws, beliefs, politics, and culture at the national and international scale; often the latter arises from the cumulative impact of the former.” (Rebecca Solnit.) i Recognising that there is a will to learn but still woeful ignorance within the Pākehā nation, we counter the denigration of Māori by daily acts of myth-busting and by amplifying the real stories. Stories of Māori success and innovation, of Māori as loving parents, of the persistent collective generosity of Māori towards Pākehā. ii We speak out against racism — in our homes, our communities, our workplaces. iii We make sure our children are being taught well in schools. We learn and share the ways in which tangata Tiriti organisations are engaging with Te Tiriti. iv We advocate for our politicians to act respectfully and to honour Te Tiriti. v We assure those who need assurance that there’s nothing to fear — that Māori sovereignty is good for all New Zealanders. It makes us whole. vi We support Māori initiatives — we donate, we turn up when asked, we share successes. vii We respond to calls for action on critical issues like freshwater, abuse in state care, and exploitation of the whenua. viii We support Māori political representation. ix We sort out our te reo pronunciation. x We watch Māori TV. xi We enjoy Matariki events. xii We respect tikanga and the authority of mana whenua."

  6. We all win! Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi “To be Pakeha in this generation is sometimes to stand behind the goal line, scratching our heads, waiting for the conversion, on the wrong end of one of the great comebacks in cultural history, our coach screaming possession, possession, possession. What we do next will define us.” (Glen Colquhoun) The different game that is needed requires direction and support both from tangata whenua and from tangata Tiriti; a “conciliatory and consensual democracy rather than an adversarial and majoritarian one.” Cooperative and consensual ways of working move us into different, respectful ways of being — ones that propel us forward while returning us to the original promise of a relationship of mutual benefit.

Jen believes "the government needs to seriously engage with the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal’s Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry Stage 1 report, which concluded that, in signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, rangatira affirmed hapū sovereignty. In 2017, Action Station drew together many voices to articulate a vision to sit alongside the work of Matike Mai Aotearoa. It includes these inspiring and apt words: "In 2040, Aotearoa New Zealand will be a fair and flourishing country with care, creativity, courage and compassion at its core. We will honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of indigenous people in our constitution, our institutions and in everything we do . . . Every person in Aotearoa New Zealand understands and respects Te Tiriti as our founding document, understands the harm done by colonisation in our country, and works to heal injustices and to see Te Tiriti honoured."



  • This article was originally written for the State of the Pākehā Nation series commissioned by Network Waitangi Whangarei.

4. Connecting with Local Tangata Whenua

I met with local educator and Te Reo speaker Jill Phillips who I know from my time at Playcentre. Alongside the Historical Society of Eastbourne, Jill has collated information in a kete for schools researching the history of Eastbourne. Concerned the kete held no voice of Te Atiawa (tangata whenua of Wanganui-a-Tara), Jill sought connections with local tangata whenua to try to remedy this. She very generously shared her experience with me and offered advice to move forward in my search to connect with tangata whenua. She suggested I ask a mutual friend to introduce me to one of three people and recommended I read Honiana Love's series of booklets, The Changing Landscape: Pā, Kāinga, Ngakinga, Urupā, and listen to a kōrero by Honiana on Nga Taonga Taunaha Whenua: Naming the Land. She also gave me information on Te Reo and Raranga (flax weaving) classes. Te Tatau o Te Pō marae is located in Alicetown, Lower Hutt, in the greater Wellington region. It belongs to the iwi Te Āti Awa.

The first person Jill suggested I approached was Myra Hunter, who is Kaiwhakahaere (organiser) or Kaitiaki (carer) at Te Tatau o Te Pō. "The marae opened in 1933. It connects ancestrally with the waka Tokomaru and Aotea, the maunga Pukeatua, and the awa Te Awakairangi. The name Te Tatau o te Po (‘Door to the night') refers to an ancient Polynesian legend."

I explained my situation to Myra, of using natural materials sourced from my local environment to make art and how it had been suggested to me that it would be respectful to ask tangata whenua for permission to use these resources. Myra felt because I wasn't hurting anything or anyone it was okay to continue doing my art practice and I could come back to her if there were any other queries. When I asked Myra about what tangata whenua meant to her, she explained it as making a place to bring people together. Oh, that took my breathe away. So humble and filled with caring for others - it wasn't about possession of land but the aroha for her people.

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