The year in review - NRAIT's wrap up of 2016
Another year comes to an end - 2016 is almost wrapped up and so is another year for the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust. Here’s our final blog entry for 2016.
Over the past few years we’ve been making a conscious effort to move our communication with NRAIT members to online platforms – we’ve been wanting to reach more of you and share more with you. As a result we’ve had an enjoyable year of engaging with the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka hapū on our Facebook page and via our eNewsletter Eke Pānuku, and now finish the year with a great Facebook timeline of what has happened in 2016.
As we scroll through we came across some key events and mahi that we wanted to share. Here’s a quick re-cap of 2016 at the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust.
New education programme
This year we launched our new education funding programme, which offered NRAIT members a broader range of education funding options. These included new grants for anyone wanting to pursue further education, and scholarships for specific subject areas. This move was to create greater accessibility to any member wanting to develop skill sets, while also focusing on the jobs that Aotearoa needs people to be in, such as science, technology, engineering and maths.
For most years we have more grants available than applicants that apply for them, or that fit within the criteria, so we’ll continue to explore initiatives to get more members taking up the grants and scholarship opportunities in the future.
Community and hapū support
The Trust puts a lot of emphasis in supporting members through a model where we aim to provide the tools rather than the solution. We do this through sponsorship when it fits within the benefits that we are able to provide as governed by the legislation our Trust operates under – The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust Empowering Act 1993. A few things we’ve done in this year include:
- Sponsoring NRAIT member Connor Alexander on a five-day boot camp to Silicon Valley in San Francisco. The opportunity was to inspire Māori students to be the new generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and thinkers and to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. This fit well within the aims of the Trust so we jumped at the opportunity to send one of our members along. You can read Connor’s kōrero here.
- The other big project this year that NRAIT sponsored, along with several others in the region, was the building of Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu at Motueka High School. The whare is a cultural center at the local high school where Māori and Pasifika will have their academic and cultural needs met. To ensure our language continues to be taught, and our kōrero is not lost, the decision to support the build of the whare was an easy one. Learn more about Te Whare Taikura o Te Maatu here.
New initiatives and project facilitators
We also brought two new members on to the team for 12 months to run some specific projects for our members. Joesephine Nathan and Steve Kenny have already begun their mahi with the Heke Ora Challenge, with more initiatives to come in 2017.
Check them out and get involved in the challenges that they’re putting together for members.
We also had to say goodbye to few NRAIT people this year – never an easy thing to do.
The first was saying goodbye to Pat Park who passed on 31 May 2016. He was a staunch friend of NRAIT and an incoming Trustee. We posted a photo of Pat on our Facebook page to notify members of the sad news, to which many left messages of great memories. Pat was buried at NRAIT’s urupa, Te Uma in June 2016.
Our second goodbye was to Renee Kelly (nee Thomas) who moved on to take a new role at the Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust. She was with the NRAIT team for 10 years as the in-house accountant. Her enthusiasm and smiling face will be missed.
We greatly appreciate the member engagement on our channels over the year – it makes all the difference to our mahi that we can interact with you on a regular basis.
Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou!
An exhibition - Mai i Hawaiki - Te Ahi Ka Roa
In the 1820s some of the Kāwhia tribes of Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Koata and Ngāti Rārua saw opportunities in a migration (heke) to conquest the south. They were joined at that time by Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga, and Te Ātiawa.
Later joined by some Ngāti Raukawa of Maungatautari and northern Taranaki hapū, they moved south in successive migrations to Manawatū, Horowhenua, Kapiti Coast, Te Upoko o te Ika, and Te Tau Ihu – Top of the South.
By the mid 1830’s some of the Kāwhia and Taranaki hapū had begun to put down roots in the Te Tau Ihu districts they had helped conquer, and by 1841 mana whenua over the different districts of the Te Tau Ihu was clearly established. For Motueka this was several hapū from the Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa tribes – our tūpuna (ancestors).
In few places has this kōrero been captured, so when asked to contribute and support the latest exhibition in the Motueka Provincial Museum we jumped at the chance. The Trustees were enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase our rich history and the bond we have with the land to the wider community.
The Mai i Hawaiki - Te Ahi Kā Roa exhibition tells the story of the great migrations from Kāwhia down the west coast of the North Island and on to Te Tau Ihu. It also tells the story of our entrepreneurship in trade at the ports with whalers and Europeans. Perhaps most importantly it tells the story of our tūpuna’s loss of lands and livelihoods, and the injustices by the New Zealand Company and the Crown spanning 150 years.
Overall the exhibition showcases our tūpuna’s courage and resilience through incredibly unjust times and how we revitalised our position as mana whenua ki Motueka.
NRAIT provided a collection of images as well as stories on our tūpuna and whenua that have been captured overtime in written form. Some influential and high ranking individuals included are Te Ātiawa o te Waka-a-Maui kuia Merenako, and the son of Ngāti Rārua chief Tana Pukekohatu, Kerei Pukekohatu. You can read our kōrero on Merenako here and on Kerei Pukekohatu here on our website.
We know that many locals have little knowledge of the town’s indigenous history and what took place when Europeans arrived, so piece by piece these stories are told in books, videos, events, online articles and now an exhibition. Passing this knowledge on to the next generation is of great importance to us.
We were humbled to part of this project and to work closely with the Nelson Provincial Museum who developed the work as part of their outreach and support of affiliated museums.
Mai i Hawaiki - Te Ahi Kā Roa will be Motueka Museum’s featured exhibition through the summer until 30 June 2017. A dawn ceremony took place on 4 December with around 80 people gathering to bless Mai i Hawaiki - Te Ahi Kā Roa. You can learn more about the exhibition and opening times of the museum here.
Education paves the way: our 2016 scholarship winners
Tika pumau ai te rangatiratanga mo nga uri whakatipu
Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence, and growth for future generations
2016 marked the year that we launched our new education funding programme offering owners of NRAIT a broader option of grants and more targeted subject areas for our scholarships. This was to create greater accessibility to any member wanting to further their education, while also focusing on the jobs that Aotearoa needs people to be in.
The funding programme was extended to support all of the hapū in any educational advancement including funding support for trades training, te reo and other adult education, as well as learning support for tamariki in secondary and primary school through organisations like Kip McGrath.
We did however have a focus with the scholarships this year on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). STEM subjects are the future required skills and knowledge our whānau need to fulfil jobs, innovate and create new products and services. Aotearoa currently has a skill shortage in these subject areas.
Recently we had the pleasure of announcing our 2016 scholarship winners, in which we awarded four inspiring individuals. These members study the subjects that our country and our hapū need, at New Zealand tertiary institutions.
Matua was our Supreme Scholarship winner, granted to him for his work towards studying a post graduate MBA. After graduating from Auckland Medical School in 2008 with distinction Matua took an offer to complete his work placement at Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital. Matua feels that his next logical step is to complete a MBA at Auckland University to further his career development and help him gain the necessary business skills to eventually become a NRAIT Trustee.
Benjamin is one of three winners of the tertiary scholarship. This award grants him a maximum contribution of $2000 p.a. to help him fund his studies. Ben is enrolled at the University of Otago, studying first year Health Science and hopes to be accepted to further study medicine in 2017. He has always had a natural tendency to care for people and it seemed right to him to lean towards study in a health-related field.
Jozef is another recipient of the tertiary scholarship. Jozef has been studying at Victoria University and is about to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations and his overall goal is to become a journalist to help Aotearoa understand the inspirational stories of our whānau, and to help change the misrepresentation of our tangata in the media. Jozef has a keen interest in creating a voice for the minorities in Aotearoa and hopes to be able to create conversation around mana.
Our third tertiary scholarship award for 2016 went to Tairoa Morrison. Tairoa is currently studying a Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. This degree has been developed with the aim of producing kaihaka who are valued repositories of mātauranga Māori, te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and Māori performing arts; ensuring graduates have the mātauranga and skill base fully recognised within Māori communities.
Our grant winners are all on the pathway to furthering their education. The grants applied for were a wide breadth of education areas.
The grant winners are Arianna Andrews, Rhiannon Bell, Renee Hayes, Andrew Howard, Teone McGregor, Huria McLeod-Bennett, Shana McLeod-Bennett, Jade Waetford, Kirsty Willison, Kylie Willison and Te Wainui Witika-Park.
We are so proud of all our winners and wish them the best in their future studies or careers. To read the full stories on our scholarship recipients click here.
Learn more here about the scholarships and grants offered this year and to start preparing your application for 2017.
Rūrangi – quake lights: The bond between the earth & sky
‘Tēnā te ngaoko nā me te onepū moana’
They shift like the sands of the beach
Early Monday morning much of Aotearoa was woken abruptly to a series of aggressive earthquakes, which changed some of Papatuanuku’s beautiful landscapes forever. But it also lit up Ranginui (sky father) - following the quakes videos began to emerge on Facebook and YouTube of a phenomenon known as earthquake lights in Wellington and Christchurch – this is known by Māori as Rūrangi.
Ngāti Rangi Iwi leader Che Wilson explained that Māori understand the lights as an occurrence between Papatuanuku - earth mother and Ranginui - the sky father. The kōrero is one of many stories and teachings about Te Kāhui o Rū – the group of vibrations, which have been passed down by generations of Ngāti Rangi.
Che Wilson explains that when we see volcanoes exploding, quakes occurring and new islands or hills being created from these forces, that it is the sign of the bond between the earth mother and the sky father, the bond is known as Tahu-ā-rangi.
Rū is said to be the vibration, Rūnuku was its effect on the earth and Rūrangi was the response – the lights.
Lucky for us Ngāti Rangi tūpuna recorded and retained the stories in waiata and karakia so we may value the kōrero from a Māori perspective today.
Western science provides some ideas as to how the lights are occurring.
How does it happen?
Various theories over the past few years propose that earthquake lights are caused by a disruption to the Earth's magnetic field because of the stress on tectonic plates or that rocks composed of quartz are producing voltage when they are squeezed – like in an earthquake.
A physics professor at San Jose State University has been studying earthquake lights for years and believes that when nature stresses certain rocks, electric charges are activated – just like when you turn on a torch, you ‘activate’ the battery. The result of the ‘battery’ being ‘switched on’ in the Earth's crust (the earthquake) is the light that was seen in the sky.
These glows produced by the earth have been seen in blue, white, purple and pink across the world and some have reported seeing them before, during and after the earthquake has hit due to the electrical conductivity of rocks through the different segments of the earthquake.
The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust send their thoughts out to the families impacted by Monday morning’s quake and the people of Kaikoura, Culverden and other nearby towns who continue to deal with the effects of departing tourists and countless landslides slowing the delivery of necessary resources.
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui
Be strong, be brave, be steadfast
Hau Kāinga - Te Āwhina Marae o Motueka
Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae
The proverb tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana is the idea that if our tamariki are given proper values at home and cherished within their family, they will not only behave well within the whānau but also within society and throughout their life.
For many of us our marae is an extension of the home and is the place where we can learn and develop, have our values instilled within us, and receive support from the extended family – a platform for a life filled with value.
For the people
Te Āwhina Marae is the marae of the mana whenua ki Motueka, Ngāti Rarua and Te Ātiawa. It’s where we come together to support one another, celebrate our culture, discuss and debate issues and solutions for our people, hold tangi, birthdays and other celebrations, and welcome visitors.
But the marae is more than just a location for events – Te Awhina is a focal point for all our whānau and hapū from young to old. From the onsite independently run pre-school – Te Kōhanga Reo o Te Āwhina, to the kaumatua flats, which provide low cost and secure housing for elders, the marae is an all-encompassing support hub for Motueka’s Māori and wider community and has been for well over 25 years.
Whānau that whakapapa to our lands can access physical and mental health services (delivered by Te Piki Oranga), kaumatua programmes, carving (whakairo) school for whānau requiring extra support, as well as an onsite gym.
Te Wharenui, Turangāpeke
In 1987 a carving school was established, led by the master carver John Mutu of Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama, to begin carving the wharenui, Turangāpeke, which was opened in 1990.
The koruru atop the wharenui is Hui Te Rangiora, the legendary discoverer of Antarctica, who came ashore at the mouth of the Riuwaka River.
The amo on the right (from inside) of the wharenui represents Hoturoa, the captain of the Tainui waka from which Ngāti Rārua ki Motueka people descend, and on the left stands Awangaiariki who was the navigator of the Tokomaru waka, from which Te Ātiawa ki Motueka people descend.
But the wharenui is now dated and too small for what is required of it, similarly the wharekai needs to expand and requires upgrades. So for the services to continue at Te Āwhina it needs to be redeveloped. These redevelopments will include a new and larger wharenui and wharekai, as well as the rebuild of the Te Kōhanga Reo o Te Āwhina, which is now complete.
It’s incredibly important that we continue to have a central location for culturally appropriate services within our rohe, so the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust is proud to support the redevelopment of the marae. The services provided today and what is being planned for the future vision of Te Āwhina is for the overall betterment of the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa ki Motueka people.
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.
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.
Te ipukarea – The maunga are here
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 email@example.com.
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
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.
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.
Chief Operating Officer
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.