Over Easter weekend te whārua o Rūātoki hosted the biennial Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe and I missed it. The last one I attended was in 2013 and I was very hapū and craving a venison and fried egg burger which I managed to get a bite of before it was taken off me and I was told off (uncooked egg is a massive listeria-covered pregnancy buzzkill). Anyway, this year we forwent it in favour of camping and minimal travel but that’s not to say that I didn’t miss it greatly. In fact, my sister said it was the best Ahurei she’d ever been to so fuck it all to hell. In devouring all the post-Ahurei media I came to the realisation that, and I won’t stop bringing this up, this is the kind of fodder that makes for art that can challenge stereotypes of Māori – tauiwi artists wanting to work in that area, take note. The reason we return to our hau kainga is because of te matemateaone: our love for the land, the people and all that this encompasses, and though some of us reside outside of our hau kainga, matemateaone maintains our connection. It also means that when I start feeling mokemoke for home, I go on an immersive web-spiral for things to transport me back. Here are five.
1. Erica Sinclair and Terry O’Connor
As I said, I won’t stop bringing up the fact that I am uncomfortable with a Pākehā artist choosing a sensationalist subject matter in order to challenge stereotypes about gangs. Why not do society a greater service and challenge stereotypes about Māori? It’s not that hard to realise that we are just like the rest of humanity: richly diverse, proud of our culture, and love the land we are of. Why not do as photographer Erica Sinclair has and photograph all aspects of te ao Māori? She’s just done covering the Ahurei and I’m so grateful to be seeing whānau photos from afar.
In the 1970s a Pākehā photographer by the name of Terry O’Connor travelled to Te Urewera to document the life of Tūhoe and one of the Ahurei. His photos are beautiful and Te Papa has rightfully acquired some of them which can be found here. The photos were also published in the book Te Manawa o Tūhoe which I bought for my dad for his birthday one year and then squirreled away onto my own bookshelf. Thanks dad. The book features a quote from my great-grandfather Kupai McGarvey and the oft-repeated line about our whenua: “te whenua i pūritia, te whenua i tāwhia.”
2. Te wero
I remember as a kid that my favourite things to watch during the kapa haka was the wero. The best year was when I had a spot on the ground by our kaumatua which was right next to where it took place. The kaiwero would descend from the stage to whomever it was who was receiving it. This year Tame Iti, who has received the wero for the past 15 years, has passed the role onto Tamahore Rangi. Māori Television interviewed him about it here. Erica’s photos also capture the wero and my brother in law Sheldon is looking mean for his!
3. Te Aumangea
Nā Timoti Karetu i tito tēnei waiata mō te roopu kapa haka a Tū Te Maungaroa i te tau 1994. He ataahua te waiata tēnei. I te nehunga o tōku māmā, nā te whanaunga Manurere (manu tioriori hoki) i tangi atu tēnei waiata. I te rongo atu ki te waiata, he hokinga mahara.
4. Ngāti Haka Patuheuheu and Tātai Whakapapa E
Another two songs that I play for my mokemoke self when I’m homesick. The aforementioned brother in law is from Ngāti Haka Patuheuheu, a hapū from Waiohau, and this is a song from them about returning home for the Ahurei:
This video always blows my mind because maaate can she sing or what?! And I love this song.
5. Taneatua was an Islander
One of the main things I want check out next time that I’m home is the Taneatua Gallery. They recently hosted a Kava Club event that explored the connection of Taneatua (the Tūhoe tipuna) to the Pacific from whence he’d sailed on board Mataatua waka. How had I not ever made this connection before?!
Despite the alleviation of homesickness through this helpful web interlude, nothing restores the wairua like a return home. Hokia ki ngā maunga, kia purea koe e ngā hau a Tāwhirimatea.