Mātāmua ko te taiao, mātāmuri ko te tangata

The Mātaiao collective embarked on their first wānanga of the year, anchored by whakawhanaungatanga with kura Māori around Tāmaki Makaurau and integrating a taiao centric way of thinking. This collective expanded after the initial gathering in October 2023 at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Kotuku, led by Papa Hemi Tai Tin, Deputy Principal. Their mission, firmly grounded by mātauranga Māori, aimed to empower kaiako in embracing taiao-centric learning.

On the evening of 21 April 2024, we held a whakatau where Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Raki Paewhenua, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori Ngaa Papaonekura, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Tapuwae and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi were welcomed aboard. The night unfolded with open kōrero delving into Mātaiao and the Atua Matua framework, laying the foundation for the journey ahead. The evening ended with a hands-on session, focused on honing hardware skills, learning vital knots ties, paddling drills and water safety procedures in preparation for our paddle to Rangitoto. 

The dawn of Monday heralded the start of  our adventure.  As the sun rose on the shores of Takapuna, preparations began for our paddle aboard Kahakura, the waka hourua bound for Rangitoto. As chants and waiata resonated across the waters, Papa Hemi unravelled the layers of observation ahead of us. Kaiako were introduced to several other Atua: “Mō taku kūare pea, he mea katoa he atua, he ingoa a rātau.” We scanned the shores of Rangitoto and dived into Atua, each embodying elements of the land and sea. Rakahore, personification of rock also known as the protector of Hine-tu-pari-maunga, the mountain maiden; Hineoneone, atua of the sand; Hinemoana the female atua of the sea; Hinetuakirikiri, the atua of gravel like rocks, “Ko tētahi wānanga nui, Haumietiketike e kore rawa e whakatipu i ngā kai mei kore ake a Hinemakawa, he hoa haere. Me whai hoa haere ngā atua.” 

Ascending towards the peak, conversations unfolded, echoing the sentiment that ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.’ These conversations allowed for more in-depth insights, illuminating the interconnectedness of Atua and their role in nurturing the earth for mana tangata. Within our discussions of whakapapa, the essence of mana was revealed in its threefold form. Mana tangata who are us humans, Mana tupuna who are ancestors and Mana Atua who are gods. “Ko tātau tērā he kōrero ana mō te whakapapa, te whakapapa, te whakapapa”

Our return journey to the waka hourua was marked by a three hour passage, as our divers then headed out to gather some kaimoana while others remained onboard the waka learning karakia. The Mātaiao team would like to thank all kaiako who attended and shared their experience with us. As much as our mission was to prioritise the delivery of Mātauranga Māori, kaiako shared that the wānanga also led them on a spiritual passage that connected and regrounded them. Kaiako navigated many obstacles and forged deeper connections with the environment and oneself.