2008 – Tumanako & Hope

Two young people stand on the stage in the Mauku school hall. It is December 2008, the official 125th anniversary of Mauku School.

“My name is Tumanako,” says the boy. “Hope and I are both descended from Tahi, a rangatira from Tongaroawhata Pa, on Whakaupoko, two hundred years ago. He would probably have been about our age – 12 or 13 – in 1808, and he would often have walked through the bush around here (yes, it was thick bush then!) as well as swum and fished in the Mauku River.

Our whanau still owns a diary he began as soon as he learnt to write – around 1830, we think, from one of the early missionaries in this district, and in te reo Maori of course. One of the last entries in his diary, in 1858, is a karakia for the future, where he prays for a place of learning in Mauku which brings Māori and Pakeha children together in harmony”.

“Our great-great-grandmother Rua,” says Hope, “was Tahi’s great-great-granddaughter. She lived to be a hundred years old. She died in 1995, the year I was born. She was an early pupil here at Mauku School. She had four children who lived to be adults, and Tumanako and I are the greatgrandchildren of two of them – my tupuna was Tama and Tumanako’s was Heeni.

“Like so many whanau, from all cultures these days, our wider family is spread all over the world these days,’’ says Tumanako. “Hope and I met this year for the first time, because my grandparents and parents had very different lives from hers. But two of our whanau organised a reunion of Rua’s descendents earlier this year. They thought it was a good time to bring us all together, because of the 150th Kingitanga celebrations. Our auntie had been reading our tupuna Tahi’s diary, which is in her cousin’s care, and the two of them decided to trace as many of our whanau as they could. That’s when Hope and I met.’’

“We got on really well at the reunion,’’ says Hope. “I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know much about our whakapapa and I hadn’t met many of our whanau before, and I don’t look very Māori or know much about te reo or tikanga. But Tumanako and I found we shared the same birthday, and liked the same music – so even though we look so different, we feel a bit like brother and sister.

We’ve been invited today to talk to you about the last fifty years around Mauku, because we share ancestors from here. And we’ve also been asked to talk about the future.

I didn’t know much about this area, because my branch of the family have moved all around the country, and overseas. I live in Christchurch. But Tumanao and I have been working together by email, and we’ve both learnt a lot we didn’t know about our family history, and about this part of the world. We’ve also challenged each other’s ideas about the future too! So here are some of our thoughts.’’

“Things weren’t too good for Maori people around here in the second half of the twentieth century,” says Tumanako. “My great-grandmother was strapped for speaking Māori at school. And right up to the 1960s, there was racial segregation in Pukekohe – until one day a local barber refused to cut the hair of Dr Henry Bennett, a Senior Medical Officer at Kingseat Hospital, because he was Māori. That caused a real stink – my gran still has some cuttings out of the Herald and Star newspapers. Most Pakeha New Zealanders were really shocked and upset, because Pakeha then really believed New Zealand had “the best race relations in the world’’.

There have been big changes in Aotearoa since then, many for the better. Hope will talk about some of those. But just a couple of other not-so-good things first.

Our burial grounds at Maioro are still being mined. Our kaumatua believe the mining harms Papatuanuku, Waikato and Manukau, and desecrates our waahi tapu. At least now if koiwi are found, the mining stops and koiwi are reburied in a special place with proper karakia – but our whanaunga had to fight for years for that, going even as far as the United Nations for help.

Our whanaunga have also been fighting for the cleaning up of our rivers, especially the Waikato, and the Manukau for over thirty years now. They’ve won some battles – like dairy farmers can’t just pour cow poo into the rivers any more – and at last the government has agreed that Tainui should be partners in the management of the Waikato. So maybe we’ll soon be able to stop humans from pouring their poo into the river too.

Our waahi tapu are still being damaged by farmers and developers – but more and more, newcomers to the district want to protect special places. Two of our whanaunga have a special project, Nga Tohu Kaitiaki, documenting and protecting pa sites and other special places Many others, both Māori and Pakeha, have been involved in writing a Heritage Plan for Franklin District which improves protection for our waahi tapu, historic sites and cultural landscapes.

Since the 2nd world war there have been lots more fertilizers and pesticides used for growing vegetables around our district. And huge paddocks still left bare between crops. Some of us – both old and young – think there are better ways to grow healthy food. But there was, I’ve been told, a Franklin Sustainability Project a few years ago, and it’s good that now more growers are planting green crops between seasons, and keeping shelter round their fields – and there are even a few organic certification signs around now!

When we stood on Whakaupoko the other day, we could see lots of trees – mainly pines, willows and other exotics used as shelter belts – but also some surviving patches of native bush, with some quite tall trees in them. My mum and dad are especially pleased about what’s happening on Whakaupoko and around Mauku – some of the landowners setting up a Landcare Group, to kill off possums, weeds and other introduced pests, to protect the remaining bits of native bush, and plant lots more. Good that they’re using the proper name for our maunga, too.

Franklin District Council has actually set up a special Māori committee representing all the local tribes, Te Roopu Paehere, to advise them. But there’s lots to do before our two founding cultures – and all the others here now – are properly respected and enjoyed.

Most of the other problems – like drugs, alcohol, crime, unemployment and so on affect Pakeha as well as Maori, so we all have to deal with those. But we know that Maori are even more affected than Pakeha, because of land, language and culture being taken away in the past. Even more young Māori than young Pakeha feel alienated and powerless. Two of my grandparents (who were known as radical activists, even within our whanau, in the 1970s and 80s) say that until Pakeha honour the Treaty and share the government of the country with Māori, we won’t find new and better ways of dealing with these things for all our people.

I think my family are among the lucky ones. My great-grandmother Heeni moved to Ngaruawahia when she was quite young, and my grandparents grew up there too, in the heart of Kingitanga. So our whanau always used te reo at home and knew our tikanga. My gran was one of Te Arikinui Te- Ata-i-Rangi-Kahu’s ladies-in-waiting, so we all grew up respecting Kingitanga and understanding how important it is to our unity and to our future.

My uncle and aunt were sent to one of the first ever kohanga reo in 1982, and I went to a kohanga, then to Pukekohe North Bilingual class and then to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Waiuku, when my parents moved back here. And the college I’m going to next year has good Maori teachers, a strong kapahaka group, and the principal is a fluent speaker of te reo who has a respectful relationship with whanaunga at local marae.

Several of our hapu are involved in a runanga which is working to bring together Treaty claims, and good management of resources, for our iwi. That’s important for our future.’’

“Yes,” says Hope, “That’s really good for our families that are scattered around the country too, because we can keep in touch with what’s happening, and be involved in decision-making for the future. Quite a lot of whanau will probably be thinking of moving back here over the next few years, especially as cities become harder to live in, and having strong marae here makes a big difference.

There is a new early childhood education centre at one of our marae, with plans for building a kura and a wananga too – there’s been a health centre on site for years now.

The last time there were big economic changes – in the late 1980s and 90s, many Maori returned to their tribal rohe, and set up work schemes to fix marae, and developed new health and education programmes. We can see similar possibilities ahead now, for our iwi, with an emphasis on healthy food production, technology and the media, and tourism. Māori have always been entrepreneurial, and our iwi have a long history of adapting to change, and surviving hard times

One of the really good things around the district now is changes in schooling. Tumanako’s mum tells me that as well as several schools around this rohe where bilingual and immersion programmes are taught, there are also several mainly Pakeha schools which are treating te reo and tikanga with respect.

We were really pleased to hear that Mauku School children – not only Māori and Pakeha, but also Samoan, Tongan and Chinese – have been studying the Treaty of Waitangi together. And some families are obviously interested in learning about both sides of the history of this area – that’s why the anniversary booklet is being published.

For people like me it’s become much better. My mum and dad, and three of my grandparents, have lived in Te Wai Pounamu all their lives. One of my grandparents is from Kai Tahu, but only in the last few years – since their Treaty settlement – has she been able to learn more about her background. So our family are more Pakeha than Māori, really – but we are keen to learn more, and know both our heritages.

And for us, it’s getting easier all the time. There are hundreds of websites for learning more about our history, about new businesses, about everything Māori or Pakeha or from any culture – you can google anything now – in Māori or in English – and find what you need to know. There’s a lot more in our libraries than there used to be too. Tumanako tells me Franklin libraries have a special collection of Māori historical resources, Te Uru Miro, as well as lots of original Pakeha pictures and papers.

There have been huge changes since the early 1970s, when a lot of younger Maori, well-educated in both Māori and Pakeha ways, became active in movements for land rights, language and the Treaty. My grandparents said at first they didn’t like all this activism – they were quite embarrassed when they saw on TV some of their whanaunga leading a march or waving a banner.

But now they say, and my parents agree, that those people did our whole nation a great service. It’s because of them we now have Treaty settlements which enable our iwi to invest in better education and health, Māori Television, a huge Māori presence on the Internet, and tools like Windows and Google in Māori. So now we have the chance to save our heritage and share it with Pakeha and others.

And then there’s the Māori Party, of course – five members of Parliament speaking strongly for tino rangatiratanga plus another 12 Māori men and women in the other political parties. 15% of our MPs are Māori since the election last month. It’s not exactly a Treaty partnership, but it’s a lot better than it used to be, my parents say.

But we wish more of our Pakeha mates and their families would make an effort to learn a bit of our language, at least pronouncing lovely Māori names carefully, and having a basic vocabulary. We see and hear English language and Pakeha cultural stuff for much of our time – but how many Pakeha bother to watch Māori Television, listen to Radio Waatea, go to Māori plays in Manukau City or Auckland, read Mana magazine – or even read the Panui in Waiuku and Districts Post (that column is another example of a good thing happening locally, though…).

Also, it would be good if more Pakeha came to things like Waitangi Day – there’s a special day for families every year at Tahuna marae – and last year there were big Matariki celebrations, too, in Pukekohe. Most marae, and even Pakeha councils and groups, have special activities now, and that’s a good way of getting to know each other better. After all, the Treaty was about sharing this country in a fair way – and that means sharing the fun too!”

As for the future, we don’t believe in trying to predict that. We believe we need to face the past, to have vision and dreams for the future, and then work to make them realities. That’s what Te Puea and our other leaders have always said. And from my other culture, in the Bible, one of our early prophets said “Where there is no vision, the people perish.’’

So to finish, here is our vision, our dreams, based on a karakia from Tahi’s diary translated by our tupuna Rua into English a hundred years ago:

To Io…Jehovah…Papatuanuku…Ranginui… and all your children…

May your love, power and wisdom flow into our children, and our children’s children after them, so they will learn to be strong in creating good things, and fighting evil ones.

May many of them fight with words, not guns, for justice and truth, for the return of stolen land, for the sharing of power and money fairly and honorably among all our peoples

May many of them plant trees to heal the land, and cleanse the streams, so we may once again have healthy food and water.

May many of them be healers of body, mind and spirit who find ways to lift from generations to come the burdens of these illnesses which destroy young people today.

May places of learning be created, here and throughout our land, where our children, and all children, come together to learn from each other, and to teach each other.

May these be places of love and respect, for all languages and all peoples, so that the many fibres together weave cloaks and mats of great strength and beauty.

As thirteen-year-olds here today, we are glad about the progress that has been made, we see clearly the challenges yet to be met, and we hope you will all join us in working for a better future – for our schools, our district, our nation and our planet.

Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui

Kia ora koutou


This excerpt has been reproduced with the kind permission of the publishers of

The History Of Mauku (2009)

and the authors:

George Flavell, kaumatua of Ngaati Te Ata, historian and sculptor

Charmaine Pountney, Ngaati Pakeha, teacher and writer.