Our place Te Uma

Posted by Ropata Taylor on 18 October 2016

Our Place Te Uma

Ko au te whenua, Ko te whenua ko au.
I am the land and the land is me

Te Uma, our urupā (cemetery) in Motueka is more than just a place to return our whānau to the land, it’s also a place of revival, a place where a view of our Te Maatu can be taken in from all angles, it gives life to our traditional knowledge, and promotes mana whenua to the Motueka community and visitors to the region.

Since 2008 Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka whānau and hapū have been walking the carved paths and gardens of Te Uma and soaking up the knowledge from the whare, Whakapaetuara. But to get it to this point a lot of work went in to its development.

In fact discussions about where to develop an urupā go back as far as September 1996 where the late Robbie Park, Pat Park’s father, explained in a meeting of the Trustees that he had been looking at ‘some land on the hill’ and suggested it was an ideal location for an urupā.

The late John Morgan, also at the meeting, put forward that it was a good idea to start preparing the area while recognising that we wouldn’t need an urupā for quite some time. Good thing the kōrero started when it did because the few Motueka small urupā available could no longer be used for burials. John Morgan and Robbie Park’s son Pat are both buried at Te Uma.

Following the resource consent process and approval to use the land as an urupā, development began. ‘Old man’ gorse was cleared from the hillside and indigenous species such as kawakawa were planted. Walking tracks were formed alongside the hill and where a drainage ditch once was a pond was developed. Two bridges over the pond along with seats and carved po add further dimensions to this once sheep grazing land.

Te Uma seats

One of the most significant aspects of Te Uma is the whare, Whakapaetuara, designed and constructed by local businesses, Whakapaetuara is a place of knowledge. Inside the whare are information panels about the history of our Trust, our tūpuna, and our whenua.

Because of the emphasis of developing Te Uma as a representation of our natural environment, while demonstrating modern conversation practices, Te Uma is often a focal point for learning about our story and developing connectedness of our people with the whenua.

While being a special place to mana whenua ki Motueka, and as waahi tapu, it is also a place for the community to expand their knowledge of our people on these lands.

Te Uma Urupā has 68 plots for descendants of the original land owners when their time comes to be returned to the whenua, several of which have already been claimed. We also welcome mothers to bury their newborn’s whenua (placenta) at Te Uma.

The Trust encourage all whānau and hapū, especially those visiting from outside the rohe, to visit this sacred place, read and learn the kōrero , look out over Te Maatu, and explore the gardens.

Interpretaton panels


Te ipukarea – The maunga are here

Posted by Ropata Taylor on 22 September 2016

te ipukarea

Photo credit: Alden Williams from Mt Arthur/The Twins: A visual diary

Haere ki ngā maunga kia purea ai koe i ngā hau o Tawhirimātea

Return to your ancestral mountains so that you may be cleansed by the winds of Tāwhirimātea.


Haere ki ngā maunga kia purea ai koe i ngā hau o Tawhirimātea is a Māori proverb that reminds us that if we are seeking replenishment and rejuvenation, that we can return to the place where we come from to find it.

The mana whenua ki Motueka whānau and hapū are spread throughout Aotearoa, but at any time can come home to te ipukarea, to the places that connect us all, notably our awa, the Motueka River, and our mountains Pukeone and Tu Ao Wharepapa, for replenishment and revitalisation.

Our maunga Pukeone and Tu Ao Wharepapa replenish us when the rain falls, produce plants that kept us dry, send messages of great importance, and for some provide a historical and spiritual link to the natural world.  Here’s a short kōreo about each of them.

Pukeone – Mount Campbell

Pukeone, the smaller of our two maunga stands at 1330m tall east of the Arthur Range. Its name, translated to mean Sand Hill, is related to the great effort of our tūpuna to transport river sand and gravel to the summit.

Signal fires would be lit across the summit, a smoke signal by day and bright fires by night, to communicate important news or events across vast distances. Before Europeans arrived this would often be a call to arms, or a signal of war or the threat of war. But after European settlement the fires often signalled important hui, for example fires were lit at the time of Wakefield’s acceptance of Nelson as a settlement ground. Charcoal remains of the fires can still be found along the summit of Pukeone today.

Pukeone continues to hold its place as a mountain for communication as seen by the radio tower that projects from the summit.

Tu Ao Wharepapa – Mount Arthur

At a higher altitude than Pukeone, our other maunga Tu Ao Wharepapa stands at nearly 1800m, making it the highest peak of the Wharepapa Range (Arthur Range), where it guards the Tablelands below.

Legend says that Tu Ao Wharepapa was named by a rangatira called Turakautaki, who fell in love with a beautiful wahine called Tuao Wharepapa. The story says Turakautaki was already married so had to leave the pā, and as he journeyed to Kawatiri where he eventually settled, he passed the mountain and named it after his lost love.  

Ngāti Rārua history also talks of the plant Nei Nei, which our tūpuna used to make capes for when it rained. A number of tomo (sacred caves) are also found within Tu Ao Wharepapa.

Share your kōrero

If you have returned home for a visit, or you’ve always resided on the homelands, and explored Pukeone or Tu Ao Wharepapa, we’d love to hear your kōrero and see some photos to share with the whānau. To share just post to our Facebook page or email them to info@nrait.co.nz.

Our homelands are our strength and inspiration, our tūrangawaewae: they stand for the hopes and dreams of our people, and at their heart is Motueka. – An extract from the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust identity document


Sources: The Prow: Mt Arthur; and The Prow: Geographic Names in Te Tau Ihu 


A journey through 22 years of our hui ā-tau

Posted by John Charleton on 8 September 2016

22 years of our hui a tau

Every year we come together for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of our hapū in Motueka. We address the governance requirements of our entity while also rekindling relationships and celebrating our identity as the mana whenua hapū of Motueka.

It began in 1994

22 years ago on 1 April 1994 we held the first AGM, a very significant and meaningful day to us all. It was a day where together we could recognise our ancestors’ 140 year struggle to have the Whakarewa lands returned to us, and begin our journey forward as the rightful guardians of the whenua.

“Our ancestors have been fighting for a long time to get it back and we finally [did]” - Kopa Stafford

The hui ā-tau, held over Easter weekend, began with the AGM formalities and then moved into more fun filled activities like a tour of the rohe and a golf tournament.

You can watch a short clip of the hui here or watch the full video below.



A 20 year milestone

In 2013 we celebrated again at our 20 year anniversary. Another milestone reached – and another opportunity to bring the whānau and hapū home for a weekend to reconnect with each other and the land.

At this particular hui we also launched a new brand – Ohu Maatu, which represents that together as a hapū we grow stronger. The Ohu Maatu brand tells the story of the hardship and battles of the 140 years leading to the inaugural 1994 hui – this can be seen as the scars upon the intertwined trees of the Ohu Maatu logo.

Since 2013 Ohu Maatu has been a closer reflection of the AGM held 20 years prior.


Toi Whenua

Above: The 1st and the 20th rohe tour

Watch a video of our 20 year celebration on Maori Television here.

The next 20 years

Every year since that meaningful day in April 1994, we have gathered at Te Āwhina Marae to discuss the Trust’s finances, provide an overview of activities for the year, appoint our representatives – the Trustees, and to retell the kōrero of our history to ensure it is never forgotten.

Next year is no different – we will select new representatives to replace any outgoing Trustees, who will drive the direction and develop solutions to our strategic objectives, and explore the whenua together while sharing stories to remind us of how we got here today.

There is one change however for future Ohu Maatu, and that is the date.

As the dates of Easter vary from year to year (e.g. from mid March to late April) and ANZAC Day is a fixed date (not necessarily on a weekend) the timing is inconsistent and provides several challenges for completing reporting requirements and organisation of the event.

Considering these factors the Board have reviewed the event timing and agreed to hold the hui ā-tau  on the last weekend of April each year (like this year’s Ohu Maatu), meaning next year it will be held 28 – 30 April 2017.

For some this may prove difficult to attend due to it not always falling on a long weekend – and because of this we will be looking into options to extend the AGM from Te Āwhina to also be online via a live webcast.

We’ll be sending our pānui Eke Pānuku out to all our members with more detail about Ohu Maatu 2017, including the positions on the Trust’s Board that are open for nominations.


John Charleton
Chief Operating Officer


Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu

Posted by Rōpata Taylor on 12 August 2016

Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu

On Friday 5 August, against the backdrop of our snow dusted maunga Pukeone, we celebrated the opening of Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu with a dawn blessing and pōwhiri. The cultural center at Motueka High School is a significant whare to us and a place where both Māori and Pasifika will have their academic and cultural needs met.

It’s also a place where all Motueka High School students including Māori, Pakeha, Pasifika, and international students can celebrate diversity and learn about the rich history of the land upon which Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu stands.

NRAIT member and former Motueka High School student Miriana Stephens told the story of our tūpuna and our whenua to the students, teachers, parents, and community members who attended on the early crisp morning of the whare’s opening.

“It’s built on land rich in Māori history, our history, and will stand as a reminder of the courage and determination of our families to take a stand and ensure the land was returned to us…” – Mirana Stephens

You can watch Miriana’s kōrero here or read our story here.

The name of the whare is especially significant. As you know Te Maatu is the garden and forest of the Ngāti Rārua and Te Ᾱtiawa people as manawhenua ki Motueka, so NRAIT is very proud to be involved in a project like this with the school and the other community groups that generously contributed to this project (these are listed at the end).

Earlier last year (8 May 2015) the founding partners came together to sign their commitment to the project. The school’s Māori head of department Hāmihi Duncan summed it up well on the day:

“It’s a space that has been put together by the community for the community.” – Hamihi Duncan

Watch the video of the founding partner’s signing ceremony here.

Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu is just the second whare like this to be built in the region, with the other being based at Nelson College.

There’s still some final touches before it is officially completed, such as installing the carvings, but for the meantime the community is very proud of what we’ve achieved together.


Rōpata Taylor

Chair, Ngāti Rāura Ātiawa Iwi Trust

Founding partners: Ngāti Rāura Ātiawa Iwi Trust, Wakatū, iTM Motueka, The Canterbury Community Trust, Nelson Building Society and Motueka High School

Support and donations from: Ngāti Rāura Ātiawa Iwi Trust, Wakatū Incorporation, Rata Foundation, Internal Affairs, The Lion Foundation, Motueka High School Parent Teacher Association, Nelson Building Society, iTM Motueka, Konica Minolta and the Ministry of Education.


Growing and gardening in Motueka: yesterday, today, tomorrow

Posted by Heather Le Grice on 28 July 2016

Growing and Gardening in Motueka

The soil beneath our feet in Motueka is unique, its rich nutrients and nourishment from the Motueka River makes our whenua (land) ideal for growing food crops. Motueka has a long history and strong future of food growing and gardening and it’s something the community is proud of.

This is a brief kōrero on the yesterday, today, and tomorrow of food growing in Motueka and how it all stems from our tūpuna (ancestors).


Before Europeans arrived in Aotearoa in 1840 our tūpuna would work and cultivate gardens together in the fertile lands of Motueka, known to us as Te Maatu (the Big Wood). Together we owned these gardens.

It was our tradition to garden with a strong biodiversity approach where we didn’t eradicate all other species in the area. So above the gardens stood rimu, southern rata and totara, while beneath the canopy were nikau palm, mamaku treefern, fuschia and many other fruit-bearing and edible plants. Our crops co-existed with these giant trees.

These gardens produced huge volumes of potatoes, including Māori potatoes and both the early and recently introduced European varieties, along with kumara, kamokamo and other crops. These crops were taken to Nelson and traded at Auckland Point and further afield, which fed the waves of incoming European settlers.

Te Maatu in Motueka

Early map of Motueka: the shaded area represents Te Maatu, the fertile land our ancestors negotiated to keep in Maori ownership during European settlement – this did not happen.


The exceptional soil fertility and the suitability of the surrounding land for small-farms were one of the main reasons that European’s settled here in 1842, but Te Maatu was quickly divided up and sold to settlers, and so our approach for the gardens to co-exist with the forest ceased to exist.

Moving forward 100 years Motueka was New Zealand’s tobacco-growing centre. However, since the government removed the requirement for locally produced cigarettes to have some New Zealand tobacco in them the crops were no longer profitable.

Apples, pear and kiwifruit orchards, and hops are what is mainly grown today. Many residents are also able to easily grow and sustain a range of fruit trees and vegetable crops in their own backyards.

Now a new annual event is coming to Motueka, the Motueka Kai Fest, which will mark and celebrate the summer harvest as well as bring all of Motueka’s gardeners together, including home-based and commercial growers and food producers.

It’s also an opportunity to make Motueka and its food better known to New Zealanders and provide education to young and old about the value and importance of producing food locally.

With the strong connection between our ancestors (the first gardeners) and today’s celebration of food, the Trust is getting right behind the Kai Fest in April 2017.


Growing and gardening in Motueka will continue to be part of the community’s fabric and culture. The future of our growing and gardening here presents opportunities to find innovative ways of addressing the challenges.

With the abundance of orchards our community’s harvest season brings many people to Motueka, but out of harvesting season the numbers drop away. As well this our gardening and growing industry is at the mercy of potential new fruit specific viruses or insects, the weather, and international markets. These all could have a drastic impact on the local economy.

However, Vision Motueka’s ‘Motueka 2030’ study has shown that the community recognise the important role growing and gardening has in Motueka, and that this and other food producing industries should be valued and supported. The study suggested that this could be achieved by building on current strengths and expertise to add value, such as through education, innovation in food science, and research and development.

At the ground level there are more and more opportunities for people to learn and develop careers in horticulture, such as at the new nursery started by Tiakina Te Taiao in Motueka (level 2), the Motueka High School (up to level 2), or the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (up to level 6).

At the end of the day – growing and gardening food for our whānau, our community and our economy is here to stay in Motueka.


Motueka – Whakarewa: 8 unique ways to connect with your homeland

Posted by Ropata Taylor on 14 July 2016

Motueka - Whakarewa 8 ways to connect

The revitalisation of Māori culture over recent decades has seen increasing numbers of us reconnecting with our roots, and our iwi reaching out to provide a path for us to do this.

It’s not always easy to reconnect with your homelands – we live all over Aotearoa and for some of us in different parts of the world, so if you’re not based near your marae it can be a challenge when you want to connect and get closer to your history, land and people.

With this in mind we’ve put together a list of ways that the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka hapū – whether you live in Motueka, further abroad in Te Tau Ihu, or elsewhere in Aotearoa – can connect with our whenua (land) and learn about our tūpuna (ancestors), the kōrero tuku iho (stories of the past) and our whakapapa.

  1. Learn the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka pepeha.
  2. Visit the marae - Te Awhina Marae in Motueka.
  3. Connect with the maunga – if you’re local plan a trip up Tuao Wharepapa (Mt Arthur) or Pukeone. You could also go on a virtual tour on Google Earth to these places.
  4. Make plans to attend next year’s Ohu Maatu here in Motueka. Click here to watch a video of Ohu Maatu 2016.
  5. Extend your mihimihi to include your Motueka tūpuna, awa (river) and maunga (mountain).
  6. Research your whānau genealogy using the list of the original 109 owners of the Motueka land and the Whakapapa Club website.
  7. Read and learn about the stories of our tūpuna and the origin of our Trust, or suggest a key event to be added our timeline.
  8. Help other whānau reconnect by checking out our current list of owners who we do not have an email addresses for. If you know any of them or have an email address for them please let us know by email to info@nrait.co.nz.

Let us know on Facebook if you have other unique ways to connect back to your homeland here in Motueka. 


Te Whenua – a meaningful experience

Posted by Ropata Taylor on 1 July 2016

Te Whenua - a meaningful experience blog title


Toitu he kainga, whatungarongaro he tangata.

The land still remains when people have disappeared


On Friday last week (24 June) the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Trustees visited a number of cultural sites significant to our tūpuna (ancestors) stretching from Kaiteriteri to Raumanuka in the Tasman Bay area. 

Thank goodness for a sunny day because the Trustees and I toured our lands on mountain bikes, which provided a more personal and in-depth experience of our whenua, and a better understanding about the journey our tūpuna undertook to get here.

A good example of this is a story that I think really connects our hapū to this place. It’s the one of Merenako, a Te Ātiawa o te Waka-a-Maui kuia who in the 1830s was exploring these lands – in particular the Riuwaka Valley. Starting at Puketawai and climbing the hill to area now known as Dehra Doon, Merenako travelled through what was mostly swampland at the time, which gave Riuwaka its original name of Turi Auraki, meaning ‘tired knees’.

Like Merenako and many of our tūpuna who explored this area over 180 years ago, we travelled through the whenua including Pukekoikoi, Puketawai, Turi Auraki, Hui Te Rangiora, Whakapaetuara and Pounamu.

We also visited Kaiteriteri, the site of the hui our ancestors had with the NZ Company in 1841. At this hui our tūpuna were adamant that Te Maatu be excluded from Pakeha settlement. Of course it wasn’t excluded and this particular event is where our story begins, and is the origin of our legacy as the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust. 

RidingPhoto cropped

When we arrived at the Motueka bridge, the Trustees acknowledged the mana of our awa with karakia, and paused at Raumanuka to consider the new cycle trail that crosses our whenua on the beachfront.

This group bike ride gave Trustees both context and direct contact with our land, and gave us all a heightened awareness of what we are trying to achieve with the hapū – the descendants of the original land owners in Motueka.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with your lands a cycle ride around the whenua is a good way to go.


Focusing on jobs of the future

Posted by Rōpata Taylor on 15 June 2016

Focusing on jobs

This month we launched our new education funding programme with a new focus – a focus on supporting education for jobs of the future.  

Our scholarships are now more focused towards subjects in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and also business management related subjects.

For our descendants and for all of Aotearoa, STEM subjects are the future required skills and knowledge needed to fulfil jobs, innovate and create new products and services, but currently our country has a skills shortage in these areas.

Over the last three years the numbers show more graduates are completing their degrees in the STEM subject areas but there is still work to be done, so we want to encourage our rangatahi to explore these subject areas closer when embarking on tertiary education, and talk to the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust about funding support towards their study.

We also expanded the funding grant options to support all our hapū wanting to further their education and training that isn’t considered a graduate degree. Our hapū can now access funding support for trades training, te reo and other adult education, as well as learning support for secondary and primary school tamariki.

These changes are largely a result of what we heard our hapū asking for during our Project Ipukarea road show. You can find out more about our education funding here.

It is also encouraging to see the high school in our rohe, Motueka High, receiving a $1 million investment to grow the capacity of the school. This investment will see new classrooms built that will support new ways of teaching and learning, and will feature the latest technology infrastructure to support digital learning.

He rei nga niho, he paraoa nga kauae
One must have the right qualifications for great enterprises.

Rōpata Taylor
Chair, Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust


Wakatu Wananga

Posted by Ivan Tava on 14 November 2013

Our development manager Ivan Tava was delighted to be invited to take part in a recent rangatahi wananga run by our sister organisation, Wakatu Incorporation.  The week-long event was designed to advance the personal and cultural development of rangatahi through self-motivation, outdoor pursuits and traditional values.  Alongside visits to homelands associated with Ngati Tama, Ngati Koata, Ngati Rarua and Te Atiawa, it was a great opportunity for participants to get to know their tupuna and cousins and learn about their history against the wonderful backdrop of the Abel Tasman National Park and our Motueka homelands.

Of the 16 young men who attended the wananga, 12 were descendents of NRAIT, along with adults Bentham Ohia, Jarrod Buchanan, Kapahau Matthews and Eru Morrison. We were proud to be able to provide the group with our very own basketball-style reversable singlets that feature our homelands Te Maatu and Motueka.  A special honour for NRAIT was having the wananga led by Ropata Taylor, a member of our Board and a prominent leader among NRAIT people.  



Supporting a whānau class celebration

Posted by Ivan Tava on 14 November 2013

The end of year hui for the Motueka High School Whanau Class was a great opportunity for NRAIT to show its commitment to supporting educational achievement among our people.  The whanau class is made up of 60 students representing iwi and hapu from throughout Aotearoa and includes a number of NRAIT owners. 

The hui was held at Te Awhina Marae, with NRAIT taking the opportunity to sponsor lunch and breakfast for the students and staff. 

Motueka High School also counts a number of well-known NRAIT owners among its alumni, including our very own Miriana Stephens, who recently featured as guest speaker at the school’s senior prize-giving.

Whanau Class