Wai ora

“Rivers are the veins of Papatūānuku, Earth Mother, and the water in them is her lifeblood. Rivers nourish all living beings and link us with ancestors.”

Water is the essence of all life, it is the blood of Mother Earth (Papatūānuku) that supports all people, plants and wildlife. It is a significant part of our culture, as it played a large role in how our tūpuna travelled, lived and survived.

As a source of mahinga kai, a place to collect materials and hāngi stones, as well as being access routes and a means of travel, rivers hold significance for not only for our ancestors, but for us today. Our tūpuna valued rivers and waterways as they were in close proximity of other wāhi tapu, settlements or other historic sites. Many of our people settled near rivers for these reasons.

Not only are rivers and waterways practical, but they also form a large, necessary part of our tribal identity, with many particular rivers and waterways playing a significant role in tribal stories.

Te Puna o Riuwaka (Riuwaka river)

Just 16km out of Motueka, in the Kahurangi National Park, you can find the Riuwaka river. Te Puna (meaning spring of water) o Riuwaka is where the northern branch of the Riuwaka river rises from the Tākaka Hill. The pure water flows underground through limestone caves and marble rocks beneath the Takaka Hill, and pours into a deep, clear pool. The river continues flowing down the hill, running into many pools along the way such as the Crystal Pool. Not only is Te Puna o Riuwaka a place of natural beauty, it is also wāhi tapu for our people. It is a sacred, supernatural place where our tūpuna would visit. Many of our ancestors lived along the Riuwaka river, and would visit Te Puna o Riuwaka, to sustain their spirits as well as cleanse and heal their bodies.

Read more on the healing waters of Te Puna o Riuwaka here.

Motueka river

As with the Riuwaka river, the Motueka river runs through rough hill terrain, with its source at Mount Owen, it then flows down towards Tasman Bay. The river is a large part of Motueka and our Whakarewa lands. Many of the occupied land areas that were wrongly sold to the New Zealand Company were alongside the river. Motueka river is commonly used for recreational purposes such as fishing, swimming and kayaking. Check out this video from Motueka High School, with some students kayaking down the awa.

Make sure you incorporate your awa/roto/moana (river/lake/sea), that you affiliate with in your mihi. If you aren’t quite sure, reach out to extended NRAIT whānau, a kaumatua, or send us an email: info@nrait.co.nz

To include your awa into your mihi, say ‘Ko Riuwaka te awa’ or ‘Ko Motueka te awa’. You could also mention your roto (lake) and/or your moana (sea).