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Te Rā o Māui Pōmare

Ngaungaua noa nei te kiri tāngata e te hau tūreperepe o Hine Takurua.  Rere tāuru ana a Puanga whērikoriko ki runga i a Te Kakau, i a Tautoru, rere tōmuri iho ko Matariki whēkorakora.  Ko te wāhanga o te tau tēnei kia noho koniahi ai te iwi, ā, kia tangi auē ai ki ngā mate, ā, kia aumihi ai hoki ki te ora.   Nei te hawe ngangī ki te tokopae aituā kua ririu atu rā ki tua o paerau, ki tua o paemano.  E moe koutou te moe au ai te moe e rarau, kāti.   Nei anō hoki te karanga ki te hau o te ora, hauora ki whakatupua, hauora ki whakatawhito, hauora ki te whai ao ki te ao marama, tihe mouri ora. 

Taranaki mounga radiates its snow-capped cone as the icy winds blow in from the south, a sure sign that winter has arrived.  The star Rigel sparkles high above Orion Nebula and Orion Belt, Matariki rises from the north-east.  It’s a time to huddle around the warmth of the fire and a time to acknowledge those who have departed this world.  It is also a time to discuss whānau aspirations and deliberate current issues; issues which include the health and well-being of people and place.  Once again at this time of year, we gather at Manukōrihi Pā, Ōwae Marae inside the noble house of Te Ikaroa a Māui.  A house symbolising strength, leadership, courage and resilience.  The same qualities possessed by our distinguished tūpuna Sir Māui Pōmare, qualities installed at an early age which were consistently demonstrated throughout his educational pursuits and political career. Sir Māui Pōmare was innately motivated to address the poverty of all designs specifically in Māori communities, the result of cultural severance, spiritual disruption, physical incarceration and mental instability.   His legacy to implement innovated health initiatives continues to this day, where whānau are central to executing cultural solutions to current issues in order to restore confidence, to believe in oneself and invigorate wellness.  This year we celebrate Sir Māui Pōmare and in doing so re-affirm our cultural identity, an identity which encompasses great health and sustainability, an identity that promotes pride and respect for now and the future. 

On a sun-filled Saturday morning the 29th June 2019, the chorus of karanga reverberated from the verandah of Te Ikaroa a Māui signaling the commencement of the welcoming process where whānau and manuhiri from near and far descended upon Manukorihi Pā, Ōwae Marae.  Ushered into Te Ikaroa a Māui, whānau and manuhiri from the community were introduced to the haukāinga, the custodians of this special annual event Te Rā o Tā Māui Pōmare.  The congregation was formally welcomed by Dr. Ruakere Hond who acknowledged those who have passed on, and their contribution to this day in the past. Local historical narratives provided context to the event upholding the works of Tā Māui Pōmare. 

In response, Haami Piripi stood on behalf of the manuhiri continuing acknowledgments to those who have passed and giving reverence to Tā Māui Pōmare.  He also recognised his fellow Northern relations from Ngāti Rāhiri ki te Taitokerau and made mention the time of the year, te aranga mai o Puanga, o Matariki, arā, te tohu o te mātahi o te tau, the beginning of the Māori New Year. To conclude the formal welcoming ceremony Wharehoka Wano stood to address the gathering and introduced his MC successor, Damon Ritai.  With enthusiasm, Damon Ritai unleashed his commanding voice arresting the attention of the house to introduce Reverend Albie Martin.  With conviction Uncle Albie drew on his deep sense of faith endorsing messages of compassion and shared his insights to grow spiritual appreciation.  Next up was the poi team, Te Puapua.   Their performance echoed throughout the house piecing the walls with spiritual teachings and historical narratives.  Following the poi performance, the assembly was asked to gather outside in front of the Tā Māui Pōmare monument where the ‘laying of the wreath’ ceremony took place.  Returning into the wharenui, Miria Pōmare presented her speech incorporating Tā Māui Pōmare’s works around mental health that aligned with current reforms addressing mental health.  

Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) CEO John Snook and his team, along with Miria Pōmare, presented the two Māui Pōmare nursing scholarships to three worthy nursing students studying at WITT all Taranaki born but have links to tribes outside the rohe.    Gracyn Meredeth (Ngai Tahu) was granted a full scholarship.  Jamie Rowe (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) and Jenn Heu (Tainui) were awarded a second scholarship split between them.  Congratulations!  

Next Damon Ritai introduced the keynote speaker of the event, the distinguished Tā Mason Durie.  Being an advocate of health reform and a stalwart to the improvement of Māori health for many years, Tā Mason Durie presented in detail aspects about Māori life expectancy in particular recovery and regeneration.  He spoke about the works of Tā Māui Pōmare which heavily contributed to building healthy communities e.g. housing, education, maternity services and nutrition.  Tā Mason also shared information about Iwi entities having a significant role to shape health policy. He enforced the importance of whānau playing a pivotal role in improving Māori health and putting the person first rather than just illness.  He highlights that just because an illness has been cured it doesn’t mean that the person as a whole is well, therefore addressing illness from a holistic approach is crucial.   He received an upstanding ovation acknowledging his tireless pursuit to improving Māori health.

After lunch, presentations were made by Hēmi Sundgren promoting a financial wellbeing collaboration between Te Atiawa and Taranaki Iwi called Ka Uruora – A programme of services supporting whānau to improve their financial wellbeing and achieve financial independence.  Next Wharehoka Wano gave a brief update about the current situation of the Taranaki Trust Board.  Tamzyn Pue gave a rousing presentation update of the Taranaki Tū Mai event to take place late November.  Following was a presentation by Dr. Ruakere Hond who gave an update of Te Pūtake o te Riri event, New Zealand Land Wars Commemoration, to be hosted in Taranaki late October.  The kaihautu for Parenting Place Karlos Ruakere promoted his whānau programme Building Awesome Whānau being run in Whaitara.   Next, Emily Bailey presented her kaupapa called ‘Ka ora taiao, ka ora tangata’.   This programme aims to support marae and kura in Taranaki to connect mana whenua with tamariki to help restore the natural environment and rebuild sustainable and resilient hāpori Māori. And to conclude Natalie Wiseman, General Manager of Transitional Economy Taranaki Low Emissions Economy 2050, presented an update of the planning stage and process of the Taranaki 2050 draft Roadmap.  A full afternoon of current and future cultural events, health and financial programmes and environmental plans and initiatives. 

Acknowledgments must be attributed to the Manukōrihi Pā Reserve Trustees, Te Korimako o Taranaki, Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), Parininihi ki Waitōtara Incorporation (PKW), the catering team and the many volunteers for their unyielding and invaluable support.  

This year 2019 Te Rā o Tā Māui Pōmare provided an opportunity to contribute and promote the richness of culture, empower the people with knowledge and insights and inspire the community to care for one another in the busy world that we live in. And as a final note, let us contemplate the following words by Keri Ōpai in his book Te Reo Hāpai, giving reference to the works of Tā Mason Durie.

“Tū pakari tonu mai e te whare tapawhā”
Let the house of health and wellbeing stand strong. 

Check out our Facebook page for more photos of Te Rā o Māui Pōmare.

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