The im­por­tance of Manuhaea to Ngai Tahu

Otago Daily Times - - TRAVEL -

Twenty­five kilo­me­tres from Makarora you reach The Neck, an ex­tra­or­di­nary piece of land. It’s about a kilo­me­tre wide and it sep­a­rates Lake Wanaka from Lake Hawea. It owes its ex­is­tence to a branch of the Hawea Glacier that joined with the Wanaka Glacier dur­ing the last ice age. If you’d ar­rived at The Neck 200 years ago, you would have found it home to a kainga mahinga kai (a food­gath­er­ing set­tle­ment) called Manuhaea. This set­tle­ment was ex­tremely im­por­tant to Ngai Tahu as it was at the cen­tre of a net­work of trails that linked the east, west and south coasts. As well as be­ing cen­trally lo­cated, its po­si­tion be­tween the two lakes would have given it some strate­gic value in terms of de­fend­ing it from in­vaders.

Not only was it a place of strate­gic im­por­tance, but it was also the site of a whare wananga, a tra­di­tional cen­tre of learn­ing — per­haps the source of the name of nearby Wanaka, as Wanaka is the Ngai Tahu spell­ing of wananga. One of the core roles of the whare wananga was as a place where to­hunga (learned ones, priests, heal­ers and ex­perts) came to learn whaka­papa, karakia, wa­iata and other core skills such as carv­ing and tat­too­ing.

The peo­ple here would have had good ac­cess to food sources, in­clud­ing eels in a small nearby la­goon, and birds that were abun­dant here, such as weka, kiwi, kaka and kereru. There was also plenty of wa­ter for ir­ri­gat­ing food crops.

Manuhaea’s im­por­tance to lo­cal Ngai Tahu saw it tar­geted by Ngati Tama (Taranaki) war­rior Te Puoho and 100 of his peo­ple in 1836, with the north­ern in­vaders at­tack­ing a fam­ily liv­ing north of Manuhaea at Makarora. One of the peo­ple they took pris­oner, Pukuharuru, es­caped and warned his fam­ily to the south. The peo­ple of Manuhaea man­aged to flee across what is now the Lindis Pass and back to the east coast along the Waitaki Val­ley. Manuhaea was never per­ma­nently set­tled again by Ngai Tahu.

How­ever, fol­low­ing the ten­ure re­view process, a scheme whereby land that was for­merly leased by farm­ers was traded or sold in ex­change for free­hold land, for Glen Dene Sta­tion, the cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance of this piece of land to tan­gata whenua was ac­knowl­edged.

As a re­sult, in 2006, land at The

Neck was gazetted as a con­ser­va­tion area in order that it be pro­tected for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.