AKA – Te Hau Ora a Tangata, Nā Justin Gush

He taonga tēnei āhuatanga

Ko Aka, ko koe, ko au, ko tātou

Nō te kauru o te rangi tēnei kaupapa

Nō ngā Whare Wānanga o tāua mātua

Aka is everything that we are,

Its intent was to capture the essence of our origins as people,

From the very depths of our understanding of our cosmology,

And relating to our houses of learning and the taonga our old people left us.

The Aka fitness and health programme has taken many years of research to develop, drawing

substance from a broad expanse of Māori history (Whakapapa), Cosmology (Mātai Tuarangi),

Navigation (Whakatere), Migration (Hekenga), Medicinal Remedies (Rongoā Māori), Martial Arts

(Hāpai a Tū), Hunting (Kohi Kai), Fishing (Hī Ika), Conservation (Atawhai) and the Environment


These different sections of nature invariably sign posted to the forest of Tāne Mahuta, finally to the

upper reaches of the Whanganui River, where the Aka vine is plentiful. The Aka vine was and is still

used for the weaving of Hinaki (Eel Traps), baskets and ladders; the ladders in some instances were

over a quarter of a mile in length, and were both flexible and durable.

Justin Gush has been involved with Aka since the mid 1990’s and has been graded as a Manukura

(Instructor) by Matua Piripi Menehira. The Aka programme is a threefold kaupapa which includes;

Tikanga Māori, Te Hāpai a Tū and Aka. During the Toi Tangata Hui a Tau 2020, Justin

delivered an introduction to Aka workshop which focuses on the first part of the programme called

‘Te Ruruku a Tinana’.

Te Ruruku a Tinana is an important aspect, because once you have acknowledged where you come

from, you then go back in to the personification of all of those elements through your body, so there

is no need for your words or your lips to actually express anything, Mā tō tinana āua kupu hei whakatangata.