Return of the kuaka

Posted by on 10 September 2018

Return of the kuaka

Every year, around the second week of September, the first of the kuaka (godwits) arrive in Te Tau Ihu after their epic, non-stop 11,500km flight from Alaska. Kuaka continue to arrive until as late as December, and will live at the Motueka Sandspit, Farewell Spit and across Te Tau Ihu, until their journey back home for the summer in March.

The kuaka have been making this journey for thousands of generations, and their journey was well known to our tūpuna, with their annual arrival seen as a significant event.

As the kuaka breed in Alaska, their eggs were never seen here in Aotearoa, so they were seen as birds of mystery.

Kua kite te kohanga kuaka?
Who has seen the nest of the kuaka?

Ko wai kite i te hua o te kuaka?
Who has ever held the eggs of the kuaka?

Kuaka feature prominently in Māori mythology, and it was believed they came from or passed through Hawaiki – the ancestral home.

It is also believed that Kupe, the Great Chief of Hawaiki followed the path of the kuaka on his journey to Aotearoa. Seeing the kuaka migrate each year in a southerly direction, and returning to the same point showed evidence that land was to be found in that direction. This began the voyage to what was to become Aotearoa. During the voyage, the ancestors would follow the flight of the kuaka during the daylight and follow the cries of the kuaka in the night.


As the kuaka make their arrival back to Te Tau Ihu this spring, you can visit the Motueka Sandspit or Farewell spit to see them in their New Zealand home.


Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Celebrating our language

Posted by on 31 August 2018

Te Wiki o te Reo Maori

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) is an opportunity to celebrate and learn our unique language. It allows us to encourage others to learn and incorporate te reo into our everyday conversations – which helps us preserve the language and ensure it doesn’t get lost.

Running from 10 September to 16 September, this year’s theme is Kia Kaha te Reo Māori, which is all about keeping the Māori language strong.

“Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of how to support revitalisation, people acquiring and using it and from the language having the right words and terms to be used well for any purpose."

How to get involved
There are many ways you can participate in Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission), have a range of posters and resources you can download and share on social media, or print out.

There are also a range of parades happening throughout the week – check out the Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori website for details of events near you.

A great way to get involved throughout the whole year is to take a look at Kupu, and register for their daily emails, which sends you a new Māori word to learn each day.

We encourage all NRAIT owners to get involved this Māori Language Week, whether that’s through encouraging others to learn te reo, sharing posters on social media or heading along to an event.


Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria
My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul


Cultural grants - supporting our whānau

Posted by on 16 August 2018

Cultural Grants

Our education funding programme has traditionally had a focus on providing support to our whānau in their education journey through scholarships to university or polytechnic. However, as well as academic education, we think it is equally important to continue cultural and sport education. So, we also provide sports and cultural grants for owners who want some support to reach their goals.

The individual sports and cultural grants are awarded up to $500, usually to assist registered owners with travel to events where they are representing their sport or cultural group at a national or international event.
Individual sports and cultural grants are only available for registered NRAIT owners to apply between 1 June and 31 August, however, Tautoko Putea grants are available outside of these dates.

Individual grants
We see a range of cultural and sporting activities throughout the grant applications, and it’s great to see our owners engaging in so many different activities. For example, recent grant recipients include Kirsty Willison, who travelled to Europe with her kapa haka group, and Haelyn Ngaia, who recently travelled to Las Vegas to compete at the Kenpo World Championships.

Kirsty Willison, one of our sports & cultural grant recipients for 2017, helped organise a trip to the International Folklore Festival in Southern Italy for her kapa haka group last year.
As well as assisting with the organisation of the trip, she also performed with the group. The grant helped Kirsty travel and perform in Italy. You can take a look at the video of her trip here.

We were also proud to award Haelyn Ngaia a Tautoko Putea grant to travel and compete at the Jeff Speakman Kenpo 5.0 World Championships in Las Vegas, USA last month. Haelyn achieved great results, with a 3rd Place in Forms/Sets in ages 9 and under Brown - Black Belt category, 4th in Self Defence and Sparring. Her whānau say we are “extremely proud of Haelyn and her achievements thus far in her martial art journey and thank you for helping Haelyn to achieve her dream of competing on the world stage”.


Opportunities for the community
Our grants and funding opportunities for sports or cultural groups are not limited to the education funding programme. The Trust is often approached by groups who require financial assistance for upcoming events or competitions.

For example, we recently provided Te Kapa Haka o Te Āwhina Marae with a grant so they could purchase their uniforms for the recent regional Kapa Haka competition.

As a Trust, we believe it is important for our owners and wider community to get involved in a range of activities to learn more about their culture and retain, and further their education. We’re looking forward to seeing more owners achieve their goals and represent their community. You can keep up to date with all of our scholarship and grant recipients on the Our Stories page on our website.


Nga Tau - The significance of our seasons

Posted by on 7 August 2018

The seasons

Each season plays an important role in how we plan for the year ahead. Our tūpuna relied upon the maramataka (Māori seasonal calendar), which they used as a guide for times to fish, go eeling, hunt, and plant crops.

Typically, our tūpuna would view the year in two seasons, the warmer months of Raumati (summer) and the colder months of Takurua/Hōtoke (winter). However, they still referred to them as four seasons – particularly when it came to harvest and other key events.


Kōanga (Spring)

When the kowhai bloomed, it meant spring had arrived. Spring is the time of year to prepare the whenua (land) and crops for harvest. Known as ‘the digging season’, these were the months to dig, prepare the soil and plant crops. Our tūpuna would prepare the whenua during spring and plant kūmara, ready for harvest in the following months.

Raumati (Summer)
Although the warmer months often brought an abundance of kaimoana, including crayfish, kahawai and whitebait, summer was not often looked forward to. The height of summer often meant food was scarce, which lead to exhaustion. Many of our tūpuna eagerly awaited the return of the colder months, which brought harvest and food was plentiful.


Ngahuru (Autumn)
Autumn was probably the most anticipated time of year for our tūpuna. With autumn being the time of harvest, there was an abundance of kai. The whenua of Motueka is rich in nutrients from the Motueka River – making it ideal for growing food crops.


“Ngahuru, kura kai, kura tangata”

Harvest-time, wealth of food, the wealth of people

We still celebrate this time of year, through events such as KaiFest.

Takurua/Hōtoke (Winter)

Following harvest, we enter the cold months of winter, which our tūpuna looked forward to as an indication of what will come in the new year. Takurua also signals Matariki, the Māori new year.

Matariki is a time to look forward to the new year, and traditionally tohunga (an expert) would look to Matariki as a prediction for the next harvest.

If the stars were bright it showed a warm, favourable season for planting, which ensures a good harvest. If the stars were unclear or close together, then it was a negative tohu (sign). The time for planting would depend on whether the stars were unclear and close together, or bright and clear, with the good tohu of bright stars meaning that planting would happen earlier.


Although not strictly followed today, we still look to the maramataka to plan out our events each year, and know what each season will bring.


Funding provided over the years

Posted by on 17 July 2018

Education prog

As a Trust, our aim is to provide opportunities, and make education accessible to all of our owners, including tamariki, rangatahi and adults too. Over the past 22 years, we have provided our owners with funding to help them along their education journey, with our education funding programme.

We have continuously developed our education funding programme to ensure our owners are employable adults with skills that will benefit not only themselves, but the wider community.
With a recent focus on STEM subjects, we have seen many owners enter into study, pursuing careers in fields such as health, science and construction. Rather than just focusing on tertiary education, we also offer grants towards trades training, adult education, and study assistance for primary and secondary students.

We are pleased to be able to offer this support to our owners, and over the past 22 years we are proud to say we have assisted over 193 owners on their education journey, through 341 grants and scholarships, totaling $422,000.


Throughout the years of our education funding programme, we have seen owners reach their goals, learn new skills, and begin their careers. We’ve been keeping up with some of these owners in recent years, to see how their journeys are going. You can read their kōrero here.

We’re looking forward to seeing even more of our owners succeed in whatever path in life they have chosen, and we are proud to support them along the way.

Applications are now open, and can only be done online. These must be completed by 31 August 2018. If you have questions about the application process, please contact


Te Kapa Haka o Te Āwhina Marae

Posted by on 22 June 2018

Te Kapa Haka o Te Awhina Marae 

As a Trust, we aim to encourage our owners to get involved with cultural activities such as kapa haka, as it only strengthens understanding of our history and our tūpuna. Knowledge from owners is passed down through storytelling, and kapa haka is one of many ways we communicate our kōrero.

Te Kapa Haka o Te Āwhina Marae is a kapa haka group made up of 36 members aged 14 through to late 50’s, including NRAIT owners. They currently practice twice a week for up to 7 hours, as well as holding a wānanga every 3 weeks, where they practice Friday through to Sunday.  They are training hard for the Te Tau Ihu Regional Senior Kapa Haka Te Matatini Qualifying Competition, on Saturday June 30.  

The competition, taking place in Nelson, will be the last qualifying event in the country. One team from this event will qualify for the 2019 Nationals, which is held in Wellington at the Westpac Stadium.

Maihi Barber, one of the tutors and leaders of the group, says that nurturing members is a priority as many are first time performers. Facilitating effective trainings and aids that enable the performers to be prepared as well as possible for their June 30 outing is a big part of it. Performers who go on to stage under prepared don't enjoy the occasion and that will be disappointing for themselves. 

Overall, they hope that all performers come off the stage feeling excited and proud of their contribution to the performance of the rōpū (group), and from their performance they hope to inspire others to join in preparation for the 2020 regionals.

Take a look at some clips from their practices earlier this month. Throughout the performance, you will hear waiata about Te Āwhina Marae and Motueka. These waiata have been specifically written about the marae and the whenua by Pohe Stephens and Aunty Mere.


During Ohu Maatu weekend, members from Te Kapa Haka o Te Āwhina Marae worked with the Trust to raise money to help with costs associated with preparing and attending competitions. The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust have also provided the group with a grant to assist them with purchasing their uniforms.

The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust strives to provide owners with opportunities, and are proud to support the kapa haka group as they prepare for their next competition.

This Sunday, 24 June, the group are holding a dress rehearsal which is open to the public. You can head along to the Motueka High School Hall at 1pm to support them in the lead up to regionals.


Matariki – Celebrating the New Year

Posted by on 12 June 2018

Matariki celebrating the new year

Matariki is the celebration of the Māori New Year. The cluster of seven stars called Matariki, also known as the Seven Sisters or Pleiades, reappear in the month of Piripi (June – July). June 15 marks the start of Matariki for most New Zealanders, with many celebrations across the country beginning this week, although some iwi celebrate Matariki at different times within this time.

How we celebrate Matariki

During Matariki we celebrate and give respect to the whenua, through different rituals and activities. Celebrations take place across the country, and include the creation and flight of traditional Māori kites (pākau) and lanterns, cultural performances and waiata from our tamariki, retelling kōrero to our whānau, as well as get togethers for hangi.

Kite flying is a special ritual that is closely linked with Matariki, as kites are seen as the connectors between Papatūānuku, the earth mother, and Ranginui, the sky father.  

At Matariki celebrations around Aotearoa, various kites are flown in the sky, just as our ancestors did. Some celebrations encourage tamariki to decorate their own kites with traditional decorations such as feathers and shells, and fly them among the stars. Other celebrations have more modern styles of kites and hot air balloons that represent how our ancestors flew kites from the hilltops.

Find Matariki in the night sky

To find Matariki in the sky, check out this video. It shows you how to find the cluster, as well as other constellations in our sky.

Events in the rohe

There are many events around the rohe to celebrate and recognise Matariki. There’s a lot to be learned so we hope you get the chance to get along to something nearby.

Celebrate Matariki with Taonga Pūoro – Nelson Provincial Museum, 15 June, 5pm – 6pm
Matariki Celebrations – Ngāti Koata Trust, 16 June,  9am – 7pm
Matariki Lantern Parade – Victory Community Centre, 27 June, 3.30 - 8pm
Matariki Open Day – Te Āwhina Marae, 13 July, 9am - 4pm

Keep up to date with these events through their Facebook pages.          


Education Funding - Applications now open

Posted by on 1 June 2018

Education launch 2018

The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust’s education grant and scholarship funding programme for 2018 is now open for member applications. As with each year, applications are open for three months to NRAIT owners who meet the criteria for each grant.

As a Trust, our aim is to provide opportunities, and make education accessible to all of our owners, including tamariki, rangatahi and adults too. We aim to support our children and young people to become employable adults with skills that will benefit them and society. To ensure all owners feel supported through their education journey, rather than just focusing on tertiary education, we also offer grants towards trades training, adult education, and study assistance for primary and secondary students.

An important focus area for us is developing people to work in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas. We aim to encourage our owners who are about to enter tertiary education, to consider these areas of study, as these are key industries where there is high demand for young, skilled workers.

As well as STEM subjects, we want to continue the entrepreneurial legacy of our tūpuna, and encourage owners to look into business management and other related subject areas. These are important skills that will not only benefit the community, but also the Trust. We are always looking to bring new talent, with the right skills and experience, on board to drive the organisation forward.

We also understand the importance of supporting those already on their journey, and have grants to help you achieve this whether it’s learning a trade, or any other adult education programme.

We are proud of the successes of our previous education funding recipients - you can read their stories here - and we look forward to supporting more of our owners in their studies.

Applications are now open, and can only be done online. These must be completed by 31 August 2018. If you have questions about the application process, please contact

Rōpata Taylor 


Hoki Mai Ra – Our 25th Anniversary Celebration

Posted by on 10 May 2018

Hoki Mai Ra

Ohu Maatu is a special and significant time of the year to remember our tūpuna, reconnect with whānau, learn and celebrate, and 2018 was no exception. It was a huge milestone for the Trust, celebrating a quarter century.

It was outstanding to see the support from the hapū from all across Aotearoa, who joined us for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Trust on 27 – 29 April in Motueka.

One of the great things about Ohu Maatu this year, was the variety of activities that our families participated in.

The weekend began with a pōwhiri at Te Āwhina Marae on Friday evening, followed by sharing kai together. We then enjoyed whakawhanaungatanga, where we could talk and connect with each other.

Early Saturday morning before the sun rose, we visited our lands at Te Kūmara on the coastline of Motueka, where we unveiled and blessed the newly installed interpretation panel. This panel shares the kōrero of the Trust, of Te Maatu, and our relationship with the whenua (land) as the mana whenua families of Motueka.

The most important part of the weekend is the hui-ā-tau, where registered owners gather to address the governance requirements of the Trust. The AGM engaged us all in really important discussions about how we’ve performed as a Trust this year, and what is of most importance to our owners now and in the future.

We had a great turnout at this year’s AGM, and thank all of our owners for their input and sharing what matters to them.

Hākari (Gala dinner)
The gala dinner on Saturday evening was definitely a highlight of Ohu Maatu 2018. We celebrated the 25 year milestone, as well as reflect on the past 25 years as a Trust. It was also another opportunity during the weekend to catch up and reconnect with each other over great kai. 

Doug Kidd, the Minister of Māori Affairs, in 1993 who sponsored our bill 25 years ago, attended our gala dinner to help celebrate and commemorate the special occasion.

We were treated to a kapa haka performance from the tamariki that attended the wānanga workshop during Saturday, which was precious to see. Our children learning more about their culture, and embracing Te Reo is so important. Tom Alesana the kapahaka tutor, and his assistants Dayveen Stephens, Maihi Barber and Tania Corbett, did an amazing job teaching our tamariki.

A special mention to the chef, Travis Martin who donated his koha for his mahi to Te Āwhina Marae. Based on feedback from our owners, it was definitely a favourite part of the weekend.

“Thank you to everyone who helped bring to life the sensational weekend that was Ohu Maatu. Our whanau appreciate how much time and energy was put into it and are grateful for the many insights we can all take away from this kaupapa.”

 - NRAIT owner

Thank you again to all of those who joined us in Motueka, our homelands to celebrate, learn, and connect over this very special weekend. We enjoyed our time with you all, and were pleased to see so many new faces. Check out the video below wrapping up Ohu Maatu 2018.


Preserving our history - sharing our kōrero

Posted by on 13 April 2018

Preserving our history

Storytelling is an important part of Māori culture, where history, art, mythology and local knowledge come together. The preservation of tikanga, te reo and our history relies heavily on kōrero being shared and passed down through generations.

As there was no written language in Aotearoa before Europeans arrived, Māori primarily verbally told the stories, although this is not the only way stories were communicated. Haka, waiata, karakia, and poems were all different ways that kōrero was shared.

Traditionally, kōrero was shared in the marae. It was important to gather as a community to listen, watch and learn the stories of our iwi. Today, we retain this tradition by gathering as a community, whether it’s in Motueka or online, to share stories of the Trust, our history and our people. We also continue the tradition of gathering with the hapū to hear these stories during Ohu Maatu, where we recite the heke (migration) and our story after settling in Te Tau Ihu.

For the future
Storytelling is vital in how we pass on information and knowledge, and only survives when it’s passed on from one generation to the next.  These stories share valuable insight into the land around us, like how Riuwaka got its original name of Turi Auraki, or how our maunga (mountains) were used by our tūpuna to communicate.

As a Trust, we want to continue to share the stories that make us who we are, such as the history of the Trust and how it was established, as well as the efforts from tūpuna like Hohaia Rangiauru, who worked to ensure the land taken was returned to its rightful owners.

These stories serve a purpose, as they retain the Māori language, as well as our identity. So, for the future we are focused on preserving the stories shared amongst our whānau, so they are not lost. We are working with kaumatua, owners and whānau to put together the stories of our history and tūpuna in written form here on the NRAIT website.

We already have a lot of information about our whenua, our people and our history, but will be adding more. Head over to the ‘Our Stories’ section to read some already written.

If you have information or kōrero that has been passed down to you about our tūpuna, whenua, or history, that you would like to share, please contact us at


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