Marae visit a wor­thy ex­pe­ri­ence for refugees

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE -

‘‘This same our cul­ture!’’ rang out many times around Taka­puwahia Marae on a spe­cial visit last month.

The marae played host to 130 for­mer refugees and new mi­grants, their English lan­guage teach­ers, and sup­port staff from Red Cross as part of an ori­en­ta­tion day on De­cem­ber 5.

The new New Zealan­ders, for­merly from a host of dif­fer­ent coun­tries, have re­cently set­tled in Porirua and in other parts of Welling­ton, and this was their first visit to a marae.

Ngati Toa kau­matua Taku Parai worked with Porirua-based Mul­ti­cul­tural Learn­ing and Sup­port Ser­vices to give the group a wel­come they will never for­get to Taka­puwahia Marae, which in­cluded a wero (for­mal chal­lenge) and powhiri.

The refugees re­sponded with a newly learned wa­iata.

Sup­ported by many trans­la­tors, the group heard about Te Rau­paraha, the birth of the fa­mous haka, and the his­tory of the fall and rise of tikanga Maori over the past 150 years.

To cap off the day, a tra­di­tional hangi was held, with a num­ber of strong Syr­ian men keen to as­sist in get­ting the hangi out of the ground.

Mul­ti­cul­tural Learn­ing and Sup­port Ser­vices gen­eral man­ager Deb­bie Player said there was plenty of food for ev­ery­one and one com­ment from the refugees in­cluded, ‘‘So healthy - no boil, no oil, no spice!’’

Player said a tikangi Maori cur­ricu­lum for refugees and English lan­guage teach­ers was de­vel­oped with the help of Red Cross Welling­ton and Change­mak­ers Refugee Fo­rum, and was very suc­cess­ful.

‘‘The pro­gramme, funded with a grant from [adult ed­u­ca­tion school] ACE Aotearoa aims to en­sure that re­cent ar­rivals have a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the bi­cul­tural na­ture of New Zealand, to con­nect with lo­cal tan­gata whenua, ac­knowl­edg­ing their im­por­tance in our com­mu­nity,’’ she said.

‘‘For teach­ers, it en­riches the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence through the nat­u­ral in­clu­sion of Te Reo and cul­ture.’’

Player said the marae visit was a huge suc­cess and as­pects of the powhiri and hangi drew ex­cla­ma­tions of recog­ni­tion from the stu­dents, who got more than a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from the cul­tural ex­change.

‘‘They ob­vi­ously sensed a strong con­nec­tion with Taka­puwahia, com­ment­ing on the his­tory of loss of land and rights, and tak­ing hope from the ex­am­ple of re­built com­mu­nity and cul­tural strength.’’

Led by Parai, the group also vis­ited a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant Ngati Toa sites in and around Porirua.

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