Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top of the South

The Nelson region, at the top of the South Island, is home to the eight tribes of Te Tau Ihu (Nelson-Marlborough) – the legacy of thousands of years of migration and intermarriage. They are Ngati Kuia, Rangitane, Ngati Apa, Ngati Toa, Ngati Koata, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama and Te Ati Awa. Whakatu Marae, in Nelson itself, is one of seven marae in the region. It’s a large complex (10 hectares) that includes this beautiful wharenui, housing for the kaumatua (elders) a kohanga reo (pre-school language nest) and a centre for health and social services. I stopped by when I was travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand in April-May (travel guide research) and took these photographs. I particularly liked the detailed exterior carvings of warriors paddling a waka (canoe) along the roofline of the wharenui (meeting house).

The destinies of the Te Tau Ihu tribes improved significantly with the establishment of the Wakatu Incorporation in 1977. The organisation today manages multi-million assets that include agriculture, forestry, commercial developments, orchards, viticulture, fisheries, marine farming and subdivision development. There has also been a significant move toward the restoration of marae, the establishment of kohanga reo and health and training centres. www.wakatu.org

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