Friday, December 27, 2013


One summer I was working the press for my uncle Chop... as part of the Robbie Cooper crew. We had a run inland from Uawa and up around Hikurangi. Shearing is a hard game full of hard men and our gang had our fair share of ‘salt-of-the-earth’ characters to make life interesting. In this gang there was my Uncle Chop on stand 1, two of the Lewis brothers (Hore and Victor)... my brother-in-law Joe Moeke... and my older cousins Rakai Tamihana and Percy Tehau. Uncle and the Lewis brothers were machines... with one speed setting... GO HARD. The other 3... Joe, Rakai and Percy were big drinkers... hard workers for sure... but breakfast, lunch and dinner type heavy drinkers. Actually it was like science... cos shearers sweat a lot of energy out and need to focus on replacing their fluids... fulla Joe Rakai and Perc were very focused... they’d have 2 bottles of brown at breakfast... 2 at smoko... 3-4 for lunch... 2 in the arvo... and the rest of the crate at the end of the day... That was normal... then there was after dinner.

One night I was sitting with Joe Moeke, Rakai and Percy... in typical Muriwai style... they start picking on me... being the youngest... Joe Moeke was a funny fulla and he’d ask me all the usual questions... all the boys from Muriwai know “Hey... got any hairs on your nuts eow?” “You had a woman bei or you like boys?” “Do your nuts shribble up in a fight bei... or do they stay hard?” always the same shit... ANYWAY Rakai reckons... tell them ‘Get F@%kd’ boy... (in his super fast reo) then heads off... leaving us to talk shit and drink LION BROWN... They had crates of the stuff delivered every few days. I was young so after a few bottles I wasn’t my usual sharp self. Joe and Percy were spinning yarns about the old man... apparently he taught them to shear sheep blah blah... and they’d been shearing blah blah blah for years. Uncle Wallace Smith had his run... Uncle Dave Ngarangione had his runs around Muriwai... Uncle Chop was working for Robbie Cooper in those days. Dollar Tehau was around and Nuku Smilers family... plus many other whanau too.

Soon... we ran out of beers... and Joey reckons... Atta Warren... go down and get 2 bottles from Rakai’s crate. He’s asleep I replied. Well just grab them then... I’ll tell him in the morning says Joe. Nah... I said... Rakai had a habit of knocking people out... before asking“who is it?” ...especially if he gets a fright. I wasn’t that drunk or that stupid. “Scared aye??? Should have known “says Joe... Reckon says Percy. Whatever... I yelled inside my head. Then Joe reckons... go on... be sweet... just be quiet... don’t wake him up. Joe and Percy went on and on and on and on and... Soon I was at the door of the Shearers quarters. I could see Rakai’s crate next to his bed. He was snoring hard... so was uncle Chop. I tip toed across the floor like a farm yard ninja. I reached down to grab 2 bottles... I carefully lifted them from the crate... making sure not to clink them together in case he woke up. I almost had them... SUDDENLY THE LIGHTS WENT ON... Joe and Percy were standing at the door... Joe yells out... WHAT THE HELL YOU UP TO WARREN... you thieving little bugger... HEY CUZZY... THIS YOUNG FULLAS PINCHING YOUR PISS... 

Everyone wakes up... uncle CHOP... cuzzy RAKAI... Then all hell breaks loose... I’m pissed with stolen beers in my hand... I get told off... twice... I get sent to f@%ken bed... twice... Joe and Percy are busy cracking up and making out they caught me... red handed... “Knew it” says Joe. From that point on... if any little thing went missing in our gang... toothpaste... soap... combs... biscuits... f%@ken jandals... I was number one suspect... BASTARDS


CONGRATULATION TO UNCLE NGAPO (BUB) WEHI... his book "Ka Mau Te Wehi" has just been voted as the best biography 2013... An awesome read with some very interesting korero about Muriwai (home sweet home). This was taken from the book... page 99-101... enjoy

The 1968 centennial celebrations of the Ringatu faith were held on the Ngai Tamanuhiri pa at Muriwai. While I had the sanction of the elders and the fortitude to perform the wero, I’d have to admit in hindsight that while physically I was up to the task, I was not as fully prepared mentally as I thought. The ritual quickly crept up on me. Just seconds prior to running out on to the marae I realized I had no taki to lay down before the manuhiri. This ruffled my feathers a bit and I had to quickly improvise. I stripped some bark from the trunk of a tree close by and tied it in a knot.

When the time came, I went through the motions of the wero and ran out onto the open stage of the marae which was surrounded by many tribes and dignitaries. I dazzled the people with all the strict swooping taiaha movements I had seen in my vision, and after a long approach I finally laid the makeshift bark taki at the feet of the then Governor General, Sir Arthur Porritt. When he, as the most important man in the visiting party, picked up the taki, I carefully retreated, leading him and the visiting entourage onto the marae.

I never thought anything more of my actions that day and simply fell back into the ranks of the Waihirere team who were employed to compliment the home orators’ speeches with song. The orators there included Paora Delamere, Kahu Te Hau, Sir Turi Carroll, Arnold Reedy, Member of Parliament for Eastern Maori, Mr. P Rewiti and the old koroua (elder) Ngakohu Pera.

Later that evening my body went into paralysis. I was unable to move my arms, legs, torso, my neck or my jawbone to speak. Luckily I was able to ask my brother-in-law to take me to see the old man Kapi Adams, a well-known blind tohunga, who happened to be in Gisborne at the time. I was a dead weight to my whanau who carried my rigid body down the road to where old Kapi was staying. As we entered the driveway to his lodgings Kapi yelled out in a loud voice “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE BUB WEHI?” By my reckoning he couldn’t see us and had no idea we were coming. Uh oh... I’d done something wrong and he already understood what it was I had transgressed, was my first thought.

The old man then asked the following question and answered it in the same breath. ‘HEI AHA TO MAHI E TAMA, KIHAI KOE I TE MOHIO, KO TERA RAKAU, HE RAKAU WHAKAIRI TUPAPAKU,’ (What have you been doing son, didn’t you know that tree is where dead bodies were hung?) At that moment I realized that in my haste and unpreparedness I taken a strip of bark from a sacred burial tree and transgressed a local tapu. As part of his ritual, he asked the whanau to lay me down before him and he walked on my back as he chanted prayers to remove the paralysis from my body...

Awesome stuff... ka mau te wehi...


Invest in the future... plant a fruit tree

My dad built our house in my grandmothers orchard... we had all sorts of fruit all around the house when I was growing up. Apricots... apples ... 3-4 plum varieties... 3-4 peach varieties... oranges... lemons... grapes... walnuts... pears... locots... feijoas... fruit everywhere... To my nan Takatohiwi... it was kai... an investment in the future... her koha to her growing whanau. Nan had many children... my dad being the eldest son. For every child she had... she'd plant a tree on top of the placenta... and dedicate the tree to that child. 

My dad was the pear tree... and with each child the outdoor pantry was enlarged cos nan beleived in planting fruit trees... that was important... The entire extended whanau enjoyed the fruits of her investment... all through my generation... and the next. Of course...all foods were important to nan... like puha... karengo... kai moana... kai maori... too much my nan... nothing went to waste with her... and pretty fiesty too... 

I remember going to get puha with her... sometimes she'd be having a full-on discussion with the wind... like WHO ARE YOU... WHAT YOU WANT... HAERE ATU... GO ON GET... of course the wind never ever answered back... TE PAE MAUMAHARA... MAURIORA WHANAU

Thursday, December 26, 2013


This is the summer solstice... the time when the sun turns back toward winter. It's the opposite of Matariki and the sun has travelled as far south as it can... now it will slowly turn back and begin it's journey north to complete the cycle that started at Matariki. All cultures that live to the beat of the suns’ drum understand the importance of the equinox and solstice. 

They are the four seasonal markers... the four currents of energy... the four winds of evolution... and the four strands of life. 3 moon cycles per season... and 12 moon cycles per year. The journey from summer to winter (and back) is a well worn path and our ancestors knew each nook and each cranny intimately... they gave them names... gave them tikanga... and gave them powerful purpose. There are 2 solstices (summer and winter) and both serve as significant celebrations in modern Maori life. The summer solstice is Christmas... and the winter solstice is around Matariki.

Solstice is about how long the day is and how long the night. In the summer solstice the days are at there longest and the nights are at their shortest. In the winter solstice the days are at there shortest and the nights are at their longest. The sun travels backwards and forwards between these two points. Around midway between them is the spring and autumn equinox. The equinox means the days and nights are about equal... so effectively smack bang in the middle of the 2 solstice. The spring equinox is about the end of September... the autumn equinox is around about March.

There are 2 solstices per year...Te Hikumata-o-Raumati... and Te Hikumata-o-Takurua. There are 2 equinoxes... Te Ineine-o-Koanga... and Te Ineine-o-Ngahuru. They are part and parcel of the cycle of life... the ebb and flow of the tides... the to and fro of the winds... the pulse and heartbeat of the seasons. Our ancestors knew all this... It wasn’t rocket science... it was observation... MAURIORA



When I was a youngster growing up in Muriwai… everyone was still using the old rua-kumara system to store their potato and kumara crops through winter… so simple a child could do it… and I should know… I wa...s that child. As a family we would all help at harvest time. My dad and uncles would be turning the potato and kumara out with shovels… but before that my o
lder brothers and cousins would clear away the vegetation… stacking it to one side as we had use for it all later. 

Then my dad and uncle dug out the crop. The rest of us got busy releasing all the potato and kumara from the soil and stacking them in rows. As the men unearthed the crop we quickly filtered through the soil to find everything. Row after row was turned over and just as quickly the crop was cleaned and stacked for sorting. As we neared the end of the picking… my mum would start to sort the crop into piles of different sizes and/or varieties. After we finished the picking… everyone joined in the sorting.

My mum gave instructions on size and layout… she designated piles and defined grades… all those who could follow her instructions were welcome to stay… those too young or too stupid to follow instructions were unceremoniously ejected from the garden… eventually the piles became more formal. Usually each pile was about 8 to 10 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide at the base. The kumara were stacked along the bottom then another layer was placed on top of those but just slightly narrower.

The stacking continues… and as the pile grows higher and higher it also gets narrower and narrower. By the time the pile reaches about 3-4 feet high they tapper almost to a point. It is important to stack the pile properly and once the stack is packed solid… the men begin covering the whole pile with soil. They used at least 6 inches of soil to cover every part of the crop. The soil is packed down real tight all over and a trench is dug round the pile that drops below the bottom level of our stack insuring any water drains away quickly.

Finally the vegetation is generously draped over the piles… It is important to cover the piles with plenty of green material. The sides of the rua-kumara are fairly steep and packed solid with soil. The green material draped across the top will eventually dry and almost fuse together to create a waterproof roof… like a poor mans thatch to help keep the pile dry through winter. Kept in tact a rua-kumara storage pit can store food for over a year.

Not exactly the most sophisticated storage system ever… but it was dirt cheap... MAURIORA



When tracing mana whenua it is important to stay focussed on the light and always follow the fire. The way to clarify the mana whenua for sure... is identify the mana tangata... and that story is often told by the land itself. If you look at any whakapapa it can seem impressive and overwhelming but if you consider one factor when tracing mana... who did they get it from... the trail backwards reveals the line of inheritance and thus the whakapapa of the ahikaaroa

This is the whakapapa of the Rangiwaho clan including Ngati Rangiwaho, Ngati Rangiwaho-Matua, Ngati Tuheke, Ngati Waipapa and Ngati Urungatoka... and as you can see there are some significant links to Kahungnu, Ruapani and Rongowhakaata. The children of Rangiwaho have strong bonds in the Turanga area. Tutekawa and his brothers and sisters had strong connections to all leading whanau.

But if you focus on the people who actually lived there... the people who sustained themselves on the lands around Maraetaha, Whareongaonga, Paritu, Puninga and Okahu... the line of inheritance becomes clear... and shows the line of ownership and occupation since the time of Tamanuhiri.

And again... this is the whakapapa of the Paeaterangi clan including Ngati Rangitauwhiwhia, Ngai Tawehi and Ngati Kahutia... and as you can see there are some significant links to Kahungnu, Tapui Paraheke and Rongowhakaata. The children of Paeaterangi have strong bonds to the Turanga area. Tapunga's children had solid whakapapa connections to all leading whanau in the area.

Again... if you focus on the ahakaaroa and follow the line of fire... the mana whenua becomes apparent. It is the people who live upon the land... those who serve as caretakers and protectors of the land... who are the main beneficiaries of the land and thus they claim mana whenua. If you know that your tipuna had mana whenua... the first question is 'where did they get mana from... and then where did they get mana whenua from. By asking this simple question you can identify the line of ownership and occupation which will eventually lead to our focal tipuna Tamanuhiri. Then the land begins to tell us the story that is etched into the landscape... thus the whakapapa moves to the land.

In the Ngai Tamanuhiri territory there are many many maunga, awa, taunga, kainga, puke etc all over the land. The actual pa and kainga themselves are long since gone but the names remain as a permanent link to that time and those people. If we look at our CORE whakapapa and take note of the names highlighted in red... these people having naming rights to this place... because this land is theirs. They own it... so they named it... pretty simple really

Now have a look at the places on the map... they show 8 generations... clearly a line of mana whenua that indicates the path of inheritance. Bfollowing the owners from generation to generation wecan determine the line of inheritance invested in this land. The land itself is speaking to us... telling us about it's layout... linking us to the sea... telling us about the hunting and fishing.... telling us about the wars... telling us great victories... telling us about our survival. If you listen carefully... the land will tell history