Iwi workshop gives information readily
Ngati Raukawa is the first iwi in New Zealand to create a programme offering people an in-depth view of a powhiri and their history.
The Raukawa Cultural information workshop, which began last year, is the ‘‘ first of it’s kind’’ Raukawa iwi chief and trust board chairman Chris McKenzie said.
Late last month members of the South Waikato District Council and other organisations were taken through a powhiri with interpreters. They were also given explanations as to why certain things occur on the paepae (bench in front of meeting house).
‘‘We told them there is nothing you can ask that will offend us,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
‘‘People are more willing to ask what they really want to know if they are given anonymity so they wrote down their questions and put them in a box, then we took them out and answered them.
‘‘We had questions like: ‘ why do men doing the haka look scary?’ and ‘why are you greedy?’
‘‘It is a good format for people to ask their questions in a safe environment,’’ he said.
One question that caught Mr McKenzie and his team off guard and had the room laughing came in the last group at the workshop.
‘‘Someone asked if Nigel Tehiko ( Raukawa trust employee) was single. We didn’t expect that one,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
The group was taken by bus to Ngati Raukawa historical sites.
South Waikato News manager Paula Baxter, who is originally from England, thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
‘‘This is the third time I have been on a marae but it’s the first time I’ve understood what was going on,’’ she said.
‘‘It was great because you had translators and they told us what was happening and gave us reasons why they do what they do.’’
Translations were given for the Maori names in the Raukawa area.
‘‘My favorite part was the bus trip because we went to an old battle site. Nigel (Tehiko) has a compelling way of retelling his people’s history – it was mesmerising,’’ Mrs Baxter said.
‘‘We were told how they fought and who they fought. It was quite extraordinary.
‘‘ I would definitely recommend everyone do this, not just foreigners but all New Zealanders. I absolutely loved it.’’
The next workshop is scheduled for the end of January.