Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Traditional Kai - Karengo

Karengo is a member of the Porphyra species of edible seaweeds and is eaten throughout the world. It is closely related to Japanese nori and Welsh laver and is highly prized by South Island Māori. It is listed as a Ngāi Tahu taonga in the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 and during World War II, dried karengo was sent to the Māori Battalion in the Middle East and soldiers chewed it while they were on the march.

 I visited Onuku marae, near Akaroa recently, where karengo is a seasonal delicacy.
Every spring, between July and september, the locals on the kaik, go down to the rocky shore and gather the brown seasweek off the rocks. A bulk harvest of karengo was traditionally dried in the sun. But if they want to eat it the same day, they pan dry it. To cook it hinu (mutton fat) or butter, is added and it's cooked slowly,  with small amounts of water added over a two hour period. “Karengo is not easy to cook. It’s tough and it takes a long time to make it soft but it’s worth the effort,” the locals say.
The day I visited, they added cream to the cooked karengo mixture for extra richness and flavour and this is placed in the tiny filo cases and set aside.
Eel, or tuna, was also on the menu, along with titi (mutton bird), and both were given a modern twist in sushi.
Many of the Onuku whanai have been going to nearby Te Roto o Wairewa between March and May since hthey were young and they're  familiar with all the old ways of tuna gathering.
“We hook them out of the canals into the pararu and on a good night we’ll get around 200. They’re gutted, washed in the sea and then hung by flax threaded through their gills. With their tails cut off they bleed out; then they’re deboned, salted and dried on hooks in the whata above the beach by the marae. These days the eels are then frozen or smoked and stored ready for use,” they say.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From the Kete Files

Colourful Kete
On Display

Friday, August 26, 2011

Portrait - 43

At the Opening
Rapaki Marae
Lyttelton Harbour
Nov. 2010. Ajr

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Visiting Murihiku

A few weeks ago, I flew down to Invercargill to interview one of the kaumatua at Murihiku Marae.
It was a perfect day and the marae looked a picture, perched on its rise, overlooking the surrounding countryside on the outskirts of Invercargill city.
For a long time, there was no marae here, but in 1983, local Maori were delighted to open their new Whare Kai, Hine o te Iwi. A few years later, in 1990, they opened their new Wharenui, Te Rakitauneke, which features beautiful carvings inside and out.
The marae sits on ten acres of land.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The House That Came Home

Every so often I come upon a story so wonderful, it gives me goose bumps. That's what I felt when I discovered a small news clipping about the return of the historic Mataatua Wharenui to the Ngati Awa people of the Whakatane area in New Zealand's North Island..
This is a Maori wharenui (meeting house) with a fascinating history. When it opened in 1875, it measured 79 feet (24 metres) in length, 41 feet (12.5 metres) in width and 24 feet (7.5 metres) high, which would have made it a colossal wharenui, even by today's standards. It was and still is, the only wharenui in existence with two sets of twins depicted in the two carved, upright supports (amo) on the front gable of the house.

In 1879 however, the wharenui was seized by Europeans for a Bristish Empire exhibition in Sydney. It was dismantled and sent across the Tasman on the steamship,  SS Staffa, where it was rebuilt inside-out (top image), exposing the precious carvings of iwi tupuna to the elements. Incidentally, the steamship it travelled on was of smaller dimension than the house itself and could have fitted inside the fully erect Mataatua.
From Sydney, the house travelled on to London in 1883. King George V and Queen Mary (second and thrid image from top) visited the wharenui during the 1924 British Empire Exhibition; and it was finally returned to New Zealand in 1925 - to the Otago Museum in Dunedin - but not before it had been 'repaired' by Auckland (European) carver, T Chappe Hall, who took it upon himself to add a sequence of carvings depicting Phar Lap's winning of the 1930 Melbourne Cup. The wharenui then spent 70 years in Otago Museum.
The 1996 Waitangi Tribunal Special Deed of Settlement finally saw Mataatua returned to the Ngati Awa people and over the last 15 years, a dedicated team of artists, originally led by the late Ngati Awa Master Carver, Te Hau O Te Rangi Tutua,  has been restoring it to its original magnificence.
And on September 17th, 2011, 130 years after it first left new Zealand shores, Ngati Awa and the Mataatua confederation of tribers will celebrate its return and reopen 'the house that came home.' It will stand once again as the icon of a united, strong and resilient Ngati Awa, who have waited a long time to share their wharenui with the pride it deserves.
Three above images - restored wharenui carvings
The September reopening of Mataatua Wharenui with provide a rare opportunity to see a contemporary application of ancient Maori traditions.  The rarely witnessed ceremony - known as Kawanga Whare, or Te Tai I Te Kawa - begins at dawn, before the rising of the sun and was traditionally undertaken to lift the tapu (sacredness, spiritual restriction), of a house so that it could be used socially in comfort and confidence. It is a long process that follows strict traditional protocols and customs.
I was lucky enough last year, to experience this traditional dawn ritual at the opening of the new Ngai Tahu wharenui at Rapaki Marae in Governor's Bay, near Christchurch.
The future for Mataatua looks bright.
Te Runanga o Ngati Awa have worked closely with a number of design and architectural partners to create a new tourism venture based around the Mataatua experience. The latest interactive digital technology has been employed to help tell the traditions and histories of Ngati Awa, beginning with the epic voyage of the Mataatua Waka, the ancestral canoe that brought the Eastern Bay of Plenty tribe's forebears to New Zealand more than a thousand years ago. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit the wharenui and to interact with the descendants of those early Ngati Awa chiefs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Country Church

I drove out to Tuahiwi Marae just north of Christchurch last week, to interview one of the kaumatua. I arrived late afternoon, just in time to see the sun scurrying across the pretty facade of the local church,  Te Whare Tipene - St Stephens Church. I've never had the chance to step inside it yet but I'm always taken with its attractive form rising out of the flat paddock and surrounded by large cabbage trees.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Day at Onuku Marae

I've visited Onuku Marae, near Akaroa many times and every time I roll down the hill to the shoreline, I'm struck again by the beauty of the divine little church that sits on a small rise, overlooking Akaroa Harbour. Te Whare Karakia o Onuku was built in 1876 and had its opening in 1878. It sits across the road from the main marae buildings and the cluster of kaik houses that snuggle under giant walnut trees.
When it opened in 1878, it was the first non-denominational church in New Zealand and the opening ceremony was attended by Maori from iwi all over the country. In 1939, it was restored to its original state in time for Akaroa's 1940 Centenary service, which was attened by over a thousand people. As the number of families on the kaik diminished, it closed for services in 1963 and is now primarily used for baptisms, weddings and funerals. The poupou standing to one side of the front of the church is Tumuki, a gift from Te Wai Pounamu Old Girls Association in 19978. It was carved by Pere Tainui.
Across the road from the church, the marae buildings huddle under a backdrop of bush-clad hills. There are two main structures - the Whare kai, Amiria Puhirere, which was opened in 1990. It was named after Amiria Puhirere, who  lived on the kaik and was admired and loved by generations of Onuku whanau. She was the daughter of Mere Whariu and Karaweko and was over 100 years old when she died in 1944. The second building is the handsome wharenui, Karaweko, pictured above.
In the early planning stages of the wharenui, a carving committee led by Pere Tainui, was set up to research the whakapapa and history that would be represented in the house. Master Ngapuhi carver, Eric Korewha was commissioned and he was helped by a group of carvers that included Simon Rogers, Hono Fleming, Hone Taiapa and Carl Wards. They spent four years carving West Coast totara.  Ngai Tahu paramount chief Te Maiharanui is represented in the tekoteko, which stands on the top of the wharenui.
Inside, a series of beautiful tukutuku panels in olive green, gold and black mirror the colours of the Onuku landscape. these were produced by Ngai Tahu weaver, the late Cath Brown of Taumutu, working with a group of Ngai Tahu weavers.
The wharenui was officially opened and blessed at dawn on February 5, 1997.
It was the first carved house to be built on Banks peninsula for over a hundred years.
The marae is homebase for the Ngai Tahu hapu of Ngai Tarewa and Ngati Irakehu and Onuku is a place of historical significance for the fact that it was the first of three South Island locations where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Portrait - 42

Maori Performer
Whakarewarewa Thermal Village
2009 Ajr

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Carved Guardian

Guarding the Entrance
Takahanga Marae
Ajr 2009

Monday, August 1, 2011

From the Kete Files

Three Kete
Te Rau Aroha Marae
Feb.2011, AJR


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