Dear Parents and Caregivers I hope you and your family have remained safe and dry…
On Wednesday the 18th of May, students from Year 11, 12, and 13 Te Reo Māori classes set off for Taranaki. The purpose of the five-day trip was for students to experience te reo Māori (the Māori language) and te ao Māori (the Māori world) in an iwi-based context, and to learn more about the bicultural history of Aoteroa, specifically what happened in the Taranaki area.
A breakdown on the way out of Auckland slowed us down a little, but did not stop us arriving in Ngāmotu (New Plymouth) in time to shop for our kai at Pak n Save, before heading on to our accommodation at Kōnini Lodge. The lodge is run by the Department of Conservation, and is located in the ngahere (forest) at the base of the maunga (mountain). It was a beautiful place to base ourselves, and we were very grateful for the heat-pumps keeping us toasty!
Thursday saw us head to the TET Stadium in Inglewood to hear from Dr. Ruakere Hond about the bicultural history of Taranaki. We learned about the Northern Raids of the mid-1800s, the following period of re-establishment, the 20 year conflict between Māori and the Crown beginning in 1860, the world’s first recorded instance of passive resistance led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi of Parihaka, and reconciliation efforts between Māori and the Government. Dr. Hond lives at Parihaka which to this day continues the legacy of those leaders, as a community dedicated to peace. We were very lucky he was able to spend some time with us to share his knowledge and perspective, and answer our questions about Taranaki and Parihaka in particular.
That afternoon was spent back at the lodge, where student groups took turns exploring the environment on foot, and completing NCEA Te Reo Māori Whakarongo assessments.
It was another early rise on Friday morning to get to Te Kōhia Pā in Waitara. This was the beginning of our tour around significant historical sites in the area, where conflicts took place between local Māori and colonial forces. Our guide, Hoani Eriwata from Puke Ariki, was very knowledgeable and skilled in the way he was able to make the historical events relatable.
Friday afternoon was spent exploring Puke Ariki, the museum and research centre. That night everyone took part in skits which incorporated the Taranaki dialect and happenings we had learned about and experienced. Suffice to say we saw some different sides of some of us, and enjoyed some serious laughs together.
Saturday morning took us into the māra (garden) at Parihaka Pā, where kaitiaki (guardians) of the māra, Urs and Tuhiao welcomed us warmly. They shared their knowledge of Parihaka, and allowed us to help plant some nitrogen-fixing winter crops. After the mahi (work) was finished we shared waiata (songs) and karakia (prayers), before heading back to the lodge for our final evening together in Taranaki.
A morning hīkoi (walk) to Te Rere o Noke (Dawson Falls) was our final act before our departure on Sunday morning, and it was spectacular. We endured breakdowns, flat tyres, power cuts and cold, wet weather, but none of this could dampen the spirit of our rōpū (group) in Taranaki. The majesty of the maunga was undeniable and the warmth and friendliness of the Taranaki people shone through. ‘Taranaki he puna wai e kore e mimiti, ka koropupū tonu, ka koropupū tonu.’ This whakataukī (proverb) speaks of the springs of Taranaki that will continue to sustain our people forever. A big thank you to all who supported this memorable trip – ngā mi’i nui!