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.