For Henare Walmsley, kaitiaki (guardian) of Te Kainga Community Centre and Marae, the appointment of Morna Taute as Turanga Māori is significant for Catholic Māori in the Wellington archdiocese. Turanga Māori embodies the concept of ahi kaa – keeping the home fires burning to nurture and guide people.
‘This is certainly what (Morna’s predecessor) Ross Wilson did. He defined what the Turanga Māori position meant for Wellington Māori.’
There are a lot of new ideas coming through, now that Morna has taken up her role. Henare knows the vision, which Ross and Catholic Māori of Wellington formed, will flourish.
‘One of our major concerns will be to keep Rangatahi (young Māori) involved in Māoritanga in the face of the many distractions like alcohol, drugs, and speeding cars. It’s a hard task but we endeavour to point them in the right direction’.
Henare says there is great hope for our young people as with Chanel Hoera, ‘our youth ambassador’ who attended World Youth Day in Cologne last August. Chanel’s presence there as the only Māori brings hope that other Rangatahi like Chanel will pick up her energy and enthusiasm. Now, he says, Chanel is coordinating a raranga (weaving) and taonga puoro (classical Māori flutes) programme (wananga) for Te Kainga’s Rangatahi. This exciting wananga looks at traditional Māori ways in which people work, live and play in their own lives.
‘From the wananga you learn the different whakapapa (genealogies) of weaving and Māori instruments. You learn how to make different taonga or treasures, and how to play the Māori musical instruments. It’s an amazing programme, which is all encompassing, and has a holistic way of looking at things.’
For Catholic Māori throughout the country the Hui Aranga, held at Easter is a celebration of sharing and companionship. This annual event has been happening for more than 40 years and attracts some two thousand people from Māori parishes throughout New Zealand.
‘The Hui Aranga is a cultural extravaganza of Māori waiata, haka, whaikorero (speeches), choir and spiritual awakening for Catholic Māori. It’s a chance to catch up with old friends, trade stories and maintain our ties with each other,’ Henare says. It also provides an opportunity to instil core Māori values into our Rangatahi like the sanctity of our body, mind and spirit, marriage and the vision of our ancestors.
Te Kainga, in the heart of the Wellington metropolis, is coming up to its fourth birthday on its Kilbirnie site, but Te Kainga has been around for some 40 years. The urban marae began its life in the 1960s near the present cathedral in Hill St. Later it moved to Boulcott St then to Webb St and eventually took over the old RSA building in Mahora St, Kilbirnie in 2001.
Since then, Henare says, the numbers have grown which is a tribute to Māori (and many of their non-Māori friends) recognising that they have a place to stand, a place where they can bring their whanau and share what they are doing.
Many people who go to Te Kainga are from different marae around the country, indeed many of the whanau are non-Māori. Te Kainga is a place to experience Catholic values in a Māori way and is open to all people to call Te Kainga their marae.
Henare is Te Arawa from Rotorua. His Iwi is Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao from a picturesque village in Rotorua called Whakarewarewa, and Ngati Whakaue on the shores of Lake Rotorua. ‘So Te Kainga holds a special place for me – it’s a home away from home.’
Henare says ‘the move to Kilbirnie was a huge milestone for us. It has helped us to grow bigger with all different programmes going on.’
These include classes in Te Reo Māori, kapa haka or action song, Māori spirituality, raranga, and taonga puoro.’ The large wharenui (ceremonial house) also provides a space where people can sleep over.
‘We get together from time to time to talk about ‘Kawa’ or protocols for the marae. This is special time for us to remember Tikanga Māori (Māori right ways) set down by our ancestors and carry these ideas through to the wonderful marae we have today.
Te Kainga marks its birthday on the 18 December and Henare says there will be a big celebration to which everyone is invited. Nau mai, Haere mai.
For more information email
or look at Te Kainga’s website: http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/tekaingamarae/