Tuia te rangi e tū iho nei
Tuia te papa e takoto ake nei
Tuia rātou ka riro i te arawhānui a Tāne
I te Muriwaihou, i te pō tiwha
I te pō e okioki ai te moe.
He maimai aroha mō rātou kua ngaro
He maioha ki a tātou, te hunga ora
Te hunga e wawata ana kia tupu anō te ora
Ki ō tātou wai, ki ō tātou whenua, ki tō tātou Ao.
Kāti, tēnā koutou katoa e te hunga e tirotiro mai nei i ēnei kōrero ka takoto atu nei. He pūrongo kōrero tēnei e tukuna ana ki te iwi mō ngā tikanga, mō ngā mahinga hoki e oti ana i runga i te kaupapa e karangatia nei ko ‘Te Kawa Waiora’. Ko te whāinga nui o te kaupapa nei, me pēhea e tupu anō ai te ora me te mauri ki te awa nei o Te Waiora, me ōna tino manga, me ngā wai ririki e rūpeke ana ki a ia. Nā, i te mea, e takea mai ana tēnei wai i ngā awa nei o Mangakāhia, o Wairua, e pā ana hoki tēnei kaupapa ki ērā wai.

E tapaina ana tēnei pūrongo ki te ingoa nei o ‘Ngā Tautohe a Rangiriri’, he whakamaharatanga tēnei ki te tohe, ki te whakahē, ki te parahako a te taniwha nei ki te parunga o ōna wai o Te Wairoa. Hei tohu tēnei tohe mā tātou te tangata.

Tēnā koutou katoa.

This is the first issue of Ngā Tautohe a Rangiriri, an occasional newsletter named for one of Wairoa River’s famous taniwha - particularly for Rangiriri’s protest concerning the deterioration of the Wairoa River.
Understanding the harm that has come to the awa and its tributaries, and what might be done to correct it, is the subject of iwi/hapū led research backed by a number of groups under the Waimā, Waitai, Waiora partnership.

Rangiriri was one of the original protestors against that harm, and against exploitation of the awa. Our research, this newsletter, and the collected voices of the hau kāinga of Wairoa River continue his protest as we aim to return health and mauri to the river.

A rocky start
Covid-19 disrupted our research project as it disrupted everything else, causing delays as our oral researchers, Hineāmaru Davies-Lyndon and Dr Charles Royal, were prevented from the face to face interviews with kaumātua and other knowledgeable people from the region.

These interviews are the heart of the Te Kawa Waiora research project and the story-based kōrero. Fortunately, this was able to be corrected later in the year.

The pandemic also kept Robyn Kāmira from accessing many of the literature resources that were only available to view in person, as libraries and archives closed for lockdown. Again, she was able to remedy this later in the year, resulting in a substantive review of literature pertaining to the awa, its people and its history.

The full paper will be available on the Reconnecting Northland website soon, recounting the many finds Robyn made and cataloguing their unique value to this mahi.

Heaphy, Charles, 1820-1881. Heaphy, Charles 1820-1881 :Cowdie forest on the Wairoa River, Kaipara (Col. Wakefield proceeding to the Bay of Islands) / Chas Heaphy 1840.. Ref: C-025-024. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22725454
What we have learned so far
Through the kōrero and the deep reading of our researchers, the awa’s history is taking shape; as tūrangawaewae, as a source of kai and as a crucible for the collected memories of hau kāinga.

The Wairoa River has changed a lot, even within the living memory of the people we have been talking to as part of this project. The health and mauri of the awa and the surrounding whenua has been damaged by more than a century of use and misuse. Themes that return to the kōrero again and again are the awa’s changing swimability, the impact of forestry and other introduced plants, the draining of wetlands for farming, the reduction of kai species such as tuna and the receding waters.

September Hui Wānanga
On 5 and 6 September, delayed as a result of the pandemic, the Te Kawa Waiora team convened the first of its hui wānanga held at Te Aroha Marae in Mangakāhia.

The purpose of the hui was to bring together members of iwi/hapū/whānau of the area surrounding the awa to discuss two of the three research questions* of the Te Kawa Waiora study:

- What is the traditional tangata whenua (iwi, hapū, whānau) view of the Wairoa River and its tributaries? (including the Wairua and Mangakāhia Rivers)

- What is their view of the river(s) today and what do they believe needs to be done to improve the health, wellbeing and mauri of these waterways? How can iwi, hapū and whānau help?

In a report following the two day series of workshop sessions, a summary of key points focused on “empowerment” for tangata whenua/mana whenua. This related to both resource-backed decision-making authority, and to kaitiakitanga, including an understanding that “humans are not superior to the natural order” and a blend of Western science-based approaches and mātauranga Māori.

These questions were also asked to our one-on-one interview participants – additional background is available on the Reconnecting Northland website, here.

A worksheet from hui wānanga focussing on question 3, What is iwi, hapū, whānau view of the river(s) today and what do they believe needs to be done to improve the health, wellbeing and mauri of these waterways? How can iwi, hapū and whānau help? 6 September 2020
What’s next?
Next on our agenda is a continuation of our hui wānanga series, with the next one happening 14 & 15 November at Rīpia Marae, Te Kōpuru. In the new year, we plan on continuing with interviews, hui wānanga and further document and/or mapping research.
About Te Kawa Waiora
The project’s research objectives are to:

- address questions of importance to the iwi, hapū and whānau communities of the rivers as the basis by which their contribution to increasing the health, wellbeing and mauri of the rivers may be achieved.

- enable the development of meaningful knowledge derived from mātauranga Māori which can be used to inform farm environment plans of the Wairoa Catchment – these plans being a critical mechanism by which tangible change in the environment can be achieved.

The project will continue until December 2021. For more information, contact Celia Witehira, celia@reconnectingnorthland.org.nz
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