Community Group Speaker: Amelia Williams

Ngāti Tara Tokanui

Amelia is a multi-tasking ringa raupā of Ngati Tara Tokanui, Ngati Koi Ngamarama.
The Ohinemuri River etched her whanau and iwi deep in the Hauraki soil. Once upon a time it was the teacher, the sustainer for a millennium or so it was home. In a brief moment the River and the iwi it sustained were decimated: her PhD journey tells that story. Her passion is not about telling it’s about doing so that the iwi generations yet to come can once again narrate the wellbeing that makes the Ohinemuri home.

Amelia is a mum a farmer, a poet, a Treaty Negotiator, a warrior ringa raupā the Executive Chairperson of the iwi Post Settlement Governance Entity.

Ode to Hinemuri
Underneath that sacred maunga
where the darkly waters glimmer
Rapa-tio-tio will not surrender
hine daughter of Te Muri

All who speak O-hine-muri
join the chanting of the ages,
Right the wrong,
return the taonga
Ngāti Koi, Ngāti Tara Tokanui...

More than a room. Reconstructing the Whare River: the praxis of tupuna narrative

Wed 2:50 pm

Why is it important to enact the knowledges of iwi and how do they enrich our understandings of making room for a River.

The Ohinemuri River forms the heart of the iwi rohe. From the time of the ancestress Marama the River forged the evolution between Ngati Tara Tokanui and the diverse ecosystems of Te Taiao. Rising from the Te Homunga Ranges, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Ohinemuri ends its 24km journey where it meets the Waihou River near the southern end of Paeroa Township.
As a Catchment it is 240km sq, consists of three major rivers and approximately 140 streams and tributaries forming expansive plains, dark narrow valleys enveloped by high soaring cliffs. Over time a number of iwi groupings formed indelible ties with the River and the Ohinemuri Catchment, given the settlement phases of colonisation gold mining and farming, aspects of the ecological and geographical structure of the Catchment have markedly changed, key cultural symbols etched by iwi, obliterated.

The theme of this conference “Making room for River” resonates the journey of Ngati Tara Tokanui who seek to rediscover, revitalise a threatened, flood prone, underprioritized Awa-the Ohinemuri River.

Background: Methodology
Any progressive research on Te Taiao-the geography-the tangible world of Aotearoa requires a narrative approach contextualized by the methodologies of Critical Kaupapa Matauranga Maori. In this perspective tupuna (ancestor) narratives create praxis: they open a door to that room filled with the richness of long-ago voices silenced by the colonisation of the whare Aotearoa. More than mere story, myth and legend tupuna narratives are applied as ‘systems of meaning’ creating a framework for change conscientising the memories of how our iwi coevolved as Te Taiao. Symbolised in etched, written, painted and narrated forms tupuna narratives are the powerful descriptive accounts through which matauranga knowledges are stored and transmitted. Language, words, the symbols of narrative are the privileged mediums that conduct culture and meaning in this manner narratives become discursive schema, powerful deconstructing tools demystifying embedded myths enabling transformative actions of revitalizing memory of and Awa.

For iwi Maori all life is premised on the principle of Whakapapa it codifies, contextualises the genealogical relationship of iwi to Te Taiao. As a Taxonomic system it identifies the interconnectedness of cosmogony to present day iwi Maori. Therefore, in a Aotearoa context, when we seek to know; research, create-redesign the room, change - the essences of Te Taiao and revitalise River, whakapapa must be central to all decision-making. In this manner the narratives of tupuna enable the scripts for present day generations to reconstruct the strong foundations of a resilient, revitalized River whare.