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 Roapta Taylor 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


Update on our superstar Tailah Love

Posted by Ivan Tava on 14 November 2013


Left to right: Tailah, Trish and Ivan

I had the pleasure of hearing about one of recent grant recipients Tailah Love and his achievements in the States.  His mother, and biggest supporter Trish informed me that he is doing really well and has 11 offers to attend university in America that include top universities Harvard and Stanford.  NRAIT proudly supported Tailah to travel to the US and attend scouting camps and we are so happy to see our investment in his future has led to even more success for our talent Tailah.

Tailah has recently been nominated as a finalist for the Tasman Secondary school sportsman of the year.  Unfortunately missed out on this award however I'm sure he is satisfied with the 12 awards he has recieved including Marlborough Boys College Sportsman of the Year and the Marlborough District Council Youth Civic award that is presented by the Mayor Alistair Sowman.

We are very happy that our financial support has helped Tailah achieve his goals and very excited to watch him succeed even further.  Good luck Tailah from all of us and your NRAIT whanau!

Read our first story about Tailah here.


Ohu Maatu Art Competition - runner up

Posted by Ivan Tava on 1 October 2013

Congratulations to Lucia Banks for winning the runner up prize for the Ohu Maatu art competition we held over the weekend. Her painting showed us what she learnt from the morning korero in our tour of our homelands, toi whenua.

Lucia won a voucher to spend at Smiggle, so she can buy some cool new pens and stationery for school.

Here's Lucia at work.




High Flyers

Posted by Ivan Tava on 25 July 2013

A chance to test their skills and nerve on a high-speed, high-wire obstacle course through the tree tops of Adrenalin Forest was just one of several highlights at a reunion event held this week in Christchurch for Wakatu and NRAIT scholarship alumni and students.

For NRAIT, the event was an opportunity to reconnect with our alumni and identify ways we can provide further value and support for them in the future.  Of the 19 alumni who attended, 12 whakapapa back to NRAIT.  We see these students as excellent role models for our young people and great assets for NRAIT in our drive to provide more support for our rangatahi.  

big group4

 A memorable and moving feature of the event was a tour around Christchurch’s red zone and the opportunity to witness the blessing of the Cathedral site, along with meetings with some of the local business owners, a number of whom had been through our Tai Wananga. The two-day event also took in a rugby game and a discussion session with Ngai Tahu’s social and cultural programme manager.

We look forward to picking up on the many ideas the group put forward to add further value and attract more applicants to NRAIT’s scholarship and grants programme.



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