Pohutukawa - Aotearoa’s rākau Kirihimete

Posted by on 11 December 2018

Pohutukawa tree

Filled with aroha, the pohutakawa tree is well known as Aotearoa’s rākau Kirihimete (Christmas tree). Used as Christmas table decorations, and lining our beaches for a shady spot to rest, pohutukawa is a summer time symbol for us kiwis.

However, the pohutukawa symbolises a lot more than Kirihimete and summer time, it ties into both our sense of spirituality and our kōrero.

Connecting with our history
As well as being an iconic part of the kiwi summer, the pohutukawa also holds a prominent place in Māori mythology.

Legends tell the story of Tawhaki - a young warrior who attempted to find heaven in the hopes of seeking help to avenge the death of his father. During his journey, he fell back down to earth. It is said that the crimson red of the pohutukawa flowers represent his blood.


The return
Pohutukawa is also a significant symbol of our spirituality - connecting the beginning and end of life.

A pohutukawa tree upon a clifftop in Cape Reinga, the northern tip of Aotearoa, is known as the place of leaping, where spirits begin their journey to our traditional homeland, Hawaiki. The 800-year old tree is known as the guard of the entrance to a sacred cave, where spirits pass on their way to the underworld.

While the bright, crimson red of pohutukawa means summer time to many of us – it has a special meaning to Māori all year round. This Christmas, why not share the meaning of pohutukawa with your whānau?

From all of us here at the Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust, Meri Kirihimete!
Check out this list of Reo Christmas words to use in everyday conversation this December.

kāri Kirihimete                 Christmas card

Meri Kirihimete                Merry Christmas

Kirihimete                        Christmas

hākari Kirihimete             Christmas feast

pepa ruruku                     wrapping paper

rākau Kirihimete              Christmas tree

whakapaipaitanga           decorations

anahera                           angel

koha                                gift, present

tōkena Kirihimete            Christmas stocking

Hana Kōkō                      Santa Claus

mārama Kirihimete          Christmas lights

hīmene Kirihimete           Christmas carol


Raranga - sharing the knowledge of our taonga

Posted by on 30 November 2018


Raranga (weaving) has always been a large part of our culture. Not only is it a way to create practical everyday items and decorative pieces, woven works are also a way in which we share our kōrero and history. These pieces are taonga (treasures), and we need to encourage the passing on of knowledge of raranga so future generations can continue to create taonga.


How was it used?
In the early times, the art of weaving was essential to how our tūpuna lived. Our tūpuna created whākariki (floor mats) as basic floor covering, as well as creating finer whākariki for sleeping, the birth of a child and tangi. Our tūpuna also wove kete (woven baskets) for carrying items such as kai (food). However, weaving wasn’t only used to create practical items like whākariki and kete, it was also a way our tūpuna shared kōrero, and preserved history for future generations. By using a range of patterns and colours, our rich history is shown through woven pieces of art such as the tukutuku panels you see in the wharenui.

The materials
Harakeke (flax) was primarily used to create these taonga, which were in abundance across the rohe. Once it is cut, it goes through a long preparation process before it can be used to weave.

The harakeke gets split so the tough edges are removed, then is divided into strips and sorted into even lengths. These strips get scraped, making the harakeke flexible and soft, ready for weaving. Sharp mussel shells were often used to soften the flax, which helps to draw out excess moisture.

The colour of the harakeke is also incredibly important as different colours create patterns which helps to communicate the kōrero. Mud and tree bark were typically used to colour the flax, although today dye is used instead. 


The future
One of our 2018 Tertiary scholarship recipients April Tahi Hohaia, is currently studying a Bachelor of Art – Raranga at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Studying a bachelor’s degree in weaving is enabling April to gain knowledge of the traditions and tikanga handed down by her tūpuna, which she can then pass on to future generations.

During her study of Maunga Kura Toi, her individual project was to create a Purekereke, a name belonging to tūpuna who wore a Paakee (rain cape) every day.  These were a practical garment, worn by warriors as they were waterproof, robust and dark to aid concealment from their enemy.

This piece of art has had a very successful exhibition in Rotorua with much positive feedback given and has set a very high standard of toi in a public pop up gallery.


April Weaving

Raranga is a great way to connect with the past and our tūpuna and keep our culture alive.

It is important that we learn the art and pass down this knowledge for future generations. Reach out to your whānau or kaumātua, to see if they can pass on their knowledge to you so you can help to keep the art of raranga alive.


Staying connected – keeping in touch with our whānau

Posted by on 16 November 2018

Staying connected

This year at Ohu Maatu, we reconnected with each other, met new members of the NRAIT whānau and revisited our homelands. Events like Ohu Maatu are great opportunities to see our whānau, engage with the Trust and learn more about each other and the whenua.

However, we don’t need to be limited to these events to keep in touch. It’s important to connect and stay engaged all year round, especially with those that live outside of Motueka, or even Aotearoa. Take a look at a few ways you can stay engaged with NRAIT.

Connecting online
We are active on Facebook and are always sharing updates, opportunities, events and our stories for our whānau to keep engaged with the Trust. Make sure you like our Facebook page and visit regularly for the latest news and updates!

We also share kōrero of our tūpuna and our whenua on the Our Stories section of our website, as well as our blog Te Whanake, which is a great place to learn more about your whakapapa and the history of your whānau.

Make sure you also sign up to our ePanui list to receive updates on scholarships, events, and news. To join the list, email info@nrait.co.nz with your name and email address using ePanui in the subject line.

If you’re not in the rohe yourself, connecting with us online is a great way to stay engaged with the activities of the Trust and wider NRAIT whānau. Make sure you also check out this blog for other ways to keep engaged with your whānau and the Motueka homelands.

Register as a member
The best way to stay engaged is to become a registered NRAIT member.  If you’re a descendant of one of the original 109 owners, registration and connection with the Trust means more than just being a name on a list. It’s a sense of belonging, opportunity to access benefits like scholarships and grants, being part of the kōrero around how we work and the Trust’s role, and learning about your ancestors.

For us to continue thriving as a people we need to continue telling our kōrero, and that relies on an engaged next generation, so we encourage you to reach out to your whānau if they’re not registered with the Trust to start their applications. Every two months the Board gathers for a hui, where we review and approve applications for new registered members.


Share your kōrero
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 our tūpuna that form our history.

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 info@nrait.co.nz.

If you’re already doing all of these things to stay connected, ka pai! It’s great to share our kōrero and stay in touch with our owners. Make sure you share this blog to inspire others to get connected.


Motueka – Whakarewa
Connecting Ourselves, Our Lands and Our Legacy



Te Moana - the legacy of our taonga

Posted by on 16 October 2018


Te Moana

As the essence of all life, water holds great significance to Māori culture. Te moana (the sea) in particular is important as it allowed our tūpuna to make their journey to Te Tau Ihu as well as providing kai (food) and other resources. The moana around us is a taonga revered by our ancestors that brought our tūpuna and continues to bring us opportunities.


Te Tau Ihu is an abundant food basket and it isn’t just limited to the whenua (land). The remote environment and sheltered bays around our rohe are perfect conditions for gathering kaimoana such as tuangi, pipi and kutai.  

Part of our cultural heritage is the ability to feed our whānau and friends and having the moana as a source of kai is something to celebrate and respect.

For hundreds of years our tūpuna lived off the whenua and moana, becoming skilled gardeners and fishermen. We have maintained this legacy, and many mana whenua ki Motueka are involved in the sustainable exports of our kaimoana through local businesses. However, providing healthy and delicious seafood remains the hallmark of our hospitality at our marae, Te Āwhina.


The moana was not only how our tūpuna completed their journey from Kāwhia to Te Tau Ihu, it was also how they travelled around Aotearoa trading the produce and crops cultivated in the nutrient-rich whenua of our rohe.

The arrival of Europeans in Motueka in 1841 and the following rapid settlement was a great opportunity for tangata whenua economically and commercially. By the 1850s a third of the sailing ships registered at Port Nelson were owned by local Māori who worked both the surrounding bays and those further afield, trading their produce.


The moana was a huge part of the lives of our tūpuna and our lives today. As a taonga, we are all responsible for the kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of our moana, whether that is through sustainable fishing or choosing reusable products over single use items to reduce our waste.


Education Programme - Our 2018 scholarship & grant recipients

Posted by on 4 October 2018

Education winners 2018
The Ngāti Rārua Ātiawa Iwi Trust were pleased to again offer our education funding programme this year including a variety of grants and scholarships available for NRAIT registered owners.

As a Trust, one of our objectives 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. 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. We were pleased to receive applications from a range of NRAIT owners all across Aotearoa, fulfilling several of these high-need roles.

We are pleased to announce our 2018 education programme winners.

The supreme scholarship is awarded to one recipient each year. It is open to any NRAIT registered owner, enrolled with a New Zealand tertiary institute or training provider. This scholarship is awarded to students studying at postgraduate level whose programme of study or research contributes to the business objectives and social deliverables of NRAIT.

Pohe Stephens

Pohe is currently studying a Master of Business and Management at Waikato University. He chose this qualification to broaden his knowledge base, and with the combination of his previous degree and experience, it creates the perfect formula to work for his Iwi.

The Master of Business and Management has deepened his understanding of both business and management and he is developing and expanding on his professional skill set. Pohe is driven by the notion of working for the betterment of his people and sees NRAIT as the perfect example of a place where this is possible.

Benjamin Kaveney-Gibb
Ben is another recipient of a tertiary scholarship. He is currently a third-year medical student at Otago University in Dunedin, and is another year closer to completing his degree and joining the health workforce.

During his third year of his studies, he completed a week-long placement focusing on community contact, where he learned about the health needs of the community around him. Ben has been exposed to many options the medical world has to offer, and is trying to keep as open minded as possible, but still sees himself strongly driven towards becoming a Māori GP with a keen focus on Māori health.

April Tahi Hohaia
Also a recipient of a tertiary scholarship, April is currently studying a Bachelor of Māori Art – Raranga. She is committed to carrying on the legacy of passing on tohu and taonga and making a better future for the next generation.


Our grant winners are all on the pathway to furthering their education. The grants applied for were across all areas of education including education grants and study assist grants for primary and secondary school students wanting additional education support.

Congratulations to the following recipients of our 2018 grants; Alexandra Morris, Andrew Howard, Renee Hayes, Te Wainui Witika-Park, Rangi Kaveney, Lucy Gotty, Beatrice Korewha, Kahu Schofer, Turanga Morgan-Edmonds, Moana Oh, Hayel Niwa, Kristin Sadd-Peawini, Shana McLeod-Bennett, Manahi Gardiner, Delane Luke, Linda Southee, Paris Studd, Zayed Studd, Ramsey Glasgow, Denim Chase, Chase Ferrel, Petra Ferrel, Tayla Ferrel, Samantha Good, Taiapo Piggott.


We are very proud of all our winners and are excited to see how they progress in their careers.


Preserving Te Reo

Posted by on 20 September 2018

Preserving te reo

While Te Wiki o te reo Māori has wrapped up for this year, the week-long celebration of the Māori language serves as a good reminder that we should never stop working to revitalise the language. Whether you want to ako (learn) and become fluent, or simply use small amounts of te reo more frequently in your daily life – these are great steps in keeping the language alive.

It’s vital to preserve te reo, so future generations can continue using it, just like our tūpuna did, and there’s a role we can all play. Simply incorporating te reo into your daily conversations with whānau and friends is an easy way to help preserve one of Aotearoa’s official languages.

Here are a few ways you can help to preserve the language:

Korero (Speak)
Share kōrero with your whānau, use some reo in day-to-day conversation. Using reo words throughout your conversations can also help others to learn te reo.

Whakarongo (Listen)
Māori TV have a great range of shows designed for those learning te reo such as Kōrero Mai and Ako. You can also listen, as well as sing along to waiata to work on pronunciation.

Panui (Read)
Find stories you can read with your whānau, visit the local library and find books written in te reo, or go online. Don’t forget you can sign up to newsletters with Kupu o te rā for a word of the day, or download the new free app, also called Kupu, where you can take photos of objects and have them translated to you in te reo.

Play (Hīanga)
Involving reo during play is also a great way to begin learning te reo, and there are great apps out there to help everyone at any stage of their reo journey.

Plink Software have created an app called Tipu, to help you learn more reo. They also have resources for schools, such as flash cards, through their Tipu for schools programme.

There are also other apps designed for tamariki to learn reo through, such as He aha tēnei?

'He mauri te reo Māori nō Aotearoa māu, mā tātou katoa'
‘Make te reo Māori an essential part of New Zealand for you, for us all’

Even if you start off small, you can help preserve te reo by incorporating it into your daily life.


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.


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