The concept behind the Nati story section of ngatiporou.com was developed by young Ngati Porou historians Hirini Kaa and Michael Tamihere. Both Hirini and Michael, alongside TRONPnui website project co-ordinator Trudy Lewis, also filmed interviews for this section. In the following korero Michael outlines some of the thinking which inspired the first chapter of Nati story.
Our greatest storytellers could connect together a vast range of ideas and information. Today technology offers us a chance and a challenge to do that again for a new era.
The majority of our iwi today lives outside of the rohe of Ngati Porou. Added to this, 200 odd years of colonisation and now globalisation has facilitated a decline in our reo and knowledge of our tikanga, whakapapa and stories. Ultimately this means that the great cultural wealth, wisdom and, if you can master enough of the threads, genius of our people built up over centuries is even now being passed into fewer and fewer hands.
Below: Nati Story interview subject Rarawa Kohere being filmed by Trudy Lewis at Horoera.
We would rightly lament the diminished opportunity to hear, learn and know our whakapapa and stories as well asthe decline of our reo – the distinctive sayings, poetry and mannerisms that aren’t just a way of speaking, but are the language for a way of being – but we’re missing the point if we think the greatest thing we have to lose is the outward expression and product of this genius.
The legacy of Iwirakau’s ‘chisel’, or Tuini Ngawai’s ‘pen’, and even the many achievements of Ta Apirana’s extensive interests and pursuits – each of them drawing on a rich whakapapa of knowledge and skill – are rightly esteemed and deserve to be preserved for future generations.But it’s what Iwirakau learnt at Te Rawheoro and the application of that knowledge and his intelligence that animated the chisel and defined a style of carving; it’s the artistry and skill prophesied for, nurtured in, and pursued by Tuini that bequeaths to us masterful compositions; and for a man from Ngati Rangi, Karuai, Te Ao and Rakairoa, it’s the confluence of whakapapa, mana, faith, intelligence and learning – ancient and modern – that empowered Ta Apirana to make a singular contribution, as just one example, to no less than a revival of Maori culture.
Today, the stories and connections available to the luminaries of our iwi are still available to us. Their whakapapa is our whakapapa. Their stories are our stories. We too can mine the riches of our heritage, weaving it together with the best on offer today, to produce art, serve our iwi and others, compose waiata, drive development, create and innovate, and add to the wellbeing and success of our whanau, our hapu, our iwi and many more.
Below: Pakirikiri marae trustee and pakeke, Papa Tate Pewhairangi (left), being interviewed for Nati Story by Michael Tamihere.
However, the hard reality is that majority of us no longer have ready access to the people, places and processes that we have used to pass on this knowledge in times past. In the 21st century, the internet presents us with the unparalleled opportunity and as yet unrealised capability to step into a new age; to remap the Ngati Porou hinengaro – the shared memories, stories, waiata, whakapapa, and so on – onto a virtual and multi-dimensional space. It will never replace kanohi-ki-te-kanohi learning. But even if we can capture and draw out the connections in a fraction of the combined intelligence of our iwi, we’ll have more than most can acquire and process in a lifetime.
Imagine being able to hear the words of a waiata, trace a line of whakapapa, or watch the recreation of a historical story and have available to you the myriad ways in which the people, landmarks, words, ideas and emotions are connected to other ideas, words, songs, people and stories across landscapes, through whakapapa, and backwards and forwards through time. You could filter and map a history of a specific kaupapa by waiata, economic activity or whakapapa. You could zero in on your marae or hapu as a starting point and figure out how you’re connected to everything in the Ngati Porou universe around you and beyond. And you could access this intelligence wherever you have a device and an internet connection.
Below: Mako Allen (HB Williams Librarian) was interviewed for the Our Taonga section of the Nati Story.
This multiplicity of available connections also reflects that ours is an iwi made up of multiple stories. There is no one definitive history; rather there are many co-narratives and counter-narratives – complementary and competing stories. Stories that can be given different emphases with every retelling and yet each adding to the richness of our history and our thinking. And the ability to make the connections in thinking between our stories as we wananga their meaning represents the innovation, creativity and imagination of what it means to locate ourselves and derive our whakapapa from the storied mountains, valleys, rivers, streams, hills, lakes, plains and seas between Potikirua and Te Toka-a-Taiau.
It is this base, and making those connections, that gives rise to genius. The last piece to this puzzle will be you. What whakapapa, stories, intelligence and understanding do you bring to this space?