Ko ng¯a kai kei Orariki
Nga¯ti Moki Marae in Taumutu sits at the confluence of the southern shores of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and the Pacific Ocean, a place where each inch of land is rich in the history of the Nga¯i Tahu people.
Taumutu has been occupied for more than 600 years, and links to whenua (land) are still strong with the current generations of those ancestral families.
Rich natural resources attracted many to the area, including the ancestor Te Ruahikihiki. His son, Moki, established Te Pa¯ o Moki, also known as Nga¯ ti Moki Marae.
Te Ruahikihiki’s descendants, Nga¯ i Te Ruahikihiki, still live in Taumutu and have influence down the coast to Dunedin.
Margaret Jones, known affectionately as Aunty Marg, grew up at the pa¯ and had seen many changes in the area. From the size and health of the lake to the changes at the pa¯ itself.
‘‘I was born by the lake, in a little shack. When I was three and a half, we moved to my nanna’s old house near the marae,’’ Jones said.
Her father was a commercial pa¯ tiki (flounder) fisherman. Her mother helped him fillet his catch for transport by train to Christchurch. Jones and the other children would help their parents, milk the cows and carry the family’s water supply to the house.
‘‘But it didn’t kill us. You ask kids to carry jugs now and it’s too heavy,’’ she said.
Her favourite memories were playing at the marae or walking to the creek by the Hone Wetere church for a picnic during the ı¯naka (whitebait) season, fishing out a bucket of the small fish to complete the meal.
‘‘We had a lot of fun growing up, even though we made most of it ourselves.’’
Although Jones left when she married, she always maintained her relationship with her land and her people.
‘‘To me, this will always be home.’’
She and other kaumatua regularly volunteered their time to teach the hapu¯ ’s younger generations about their history, host events at the marae and help with other ru¯ nanga needs. Events were held at the marae every week.
The current marae meeting hall opened on May 7, 1891. Over the years a wharekai (kitchen or eating room) and a ru¯ nanga office had been added.
Through bearing the brunt of the inter-tribal conflict of the Kai Huaka feud, suffering under Te Rauparaha’s invasion from the North and the arrival of colonial settlers, Taumutu and Te Pa¯ o Moki have remained a home to Nga¯ i Te Ruahikihiki.
Te Taumutu Ru¯ nanga portfolio leader Puamiria Parata-Goodall said the site’s prominence meant the area was rich in archeological ta¯onga (treasures), including examples of Nga¯ i Tahu weaving and carving styles from more than 500 years ago.
‘‘They are real ta¯ onga, because they are some of the few examples,’’ she said.
Parata-Goodall said the archeological sites and endangered species in the area had come under the collective protection of a number of ru¯ nanga and other organisations.
‘‘It’s our collective responsibility to look after our place,’’ she said.
Pura Parata looks back during a whaiko¯rero on Nga¯ti Moki Marae.