Iwi work­shop gives in­for­ma­tion read­ily

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

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.

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