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March 19, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion | [ssba]

NT: Te Ara Tauira

Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui!

Here is a story that you’ve probably heard before. It’s one that’s all too common among indigenous peoples, but the themes and lessons from this story are ones that our tupuna have been telling us for generations.

Close your eyes. Picture your whenua, your tūrangawaewae. The place your whānau have resided for as long as the wind itself. And like the wind, your whānau become attuned to the rhythms of the ngahere, the currents of the awa, and the ebbing and flowing of the moana. From your ancestors you’ve probably been taught the protocols and responsibilities of coexisting in this environment, with an understanding of and a sense of respect for Papatūānuku.

Now take that same whenua, and imagine it being trodden on by an unfamiliar foot. Words such as ‘expansion’, ‘development’, and ‘progress’ are being thrown around. And very quickly, the land you’d become so used to seems very different. That spring behind the marae where your koro used to catch eels has become too polluted. You no longer see the birds that migrated from the far reaches of the Pacific ocean, because the wetlands that used to accommodate them are now something of a sewage pond.

These are just some issues that our people have had to deal with for decades, and continue to face on an everyday basis. For instance, whānau from Kāpehu marae near Dargaville are currently resisting proposed developments to build a Tegel chicken farm on 250 hectares of Northland land. There is something within this story that rings true irrespective of time, place, or peoples. And that’s that tangata whenua will continue to be crafty and brave in the face of adversity, regardless of circumstance.

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