Kōhatu pounamu returns home to Whakatipu Kōtuku/Hollyford

A rōpu (group) of Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio whānau made a symbolic hīkoi (journey) recently to a significant part of their rohe, Whakatipu Kōtuku Martins Bay.

Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Deputy Chairperson Kara Edwards says the kaupapa or purpose of the hīkoi was to present a kōhatu pounamu to the Hollyford Track team as a symbol of their relationship with Makaawhio.

“But the hīkoi was more than that. We had the opportunity to reconnect with this wāhi taonga, which was home to our significant Tipuna, Tūtoko and his whānau. We were able to interact with the Hollyford Track Team and share stories about Whakatipu Kōtuku to ensure the guides are offering authentic, cultural information.”

Also part of the rōpu was Brian Allingham, the rūnanga archaeologist, who undertook an archaeological assessment to record the significant cultural values in the area.
The kōhatu pounamu, named ‘Te Herenga ki te ngākau Māhaki’, meaning ‘the return to the heart of Kāti Māhaki’ is being returned back, close to its source at ‘Kā Umu o Hāpopo’ or Big Bay, Fiordland. It has a ‘mauri’ of its own and as such embodies a living, spiritual energy that is shared with all those who touch it. It is a powerful symbol of the tribal relationship with the land and is a gift from Makaawhio to Hollyford Track and Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Upoko Richard Wallace says the pounamu will be a centre piece at Martins Bay Lodge to welcome visitors and an anchor point for whānau and the Hollyford Track team.

“The name, Te Herenga, links Hollyford back to the heart of Māhaki to Te Tauraka Waka a Māui Marae,” says Richard Wallace.

“Whakatipu Kōtuku or Martins Bay is an area of immense significant cultural importance to our people. It was the home of our Tipuna Tūtoko who helped fight to protect our pounamu hundreds of years ago and who acted as a sentry, guarding the pounamu trails and one of the main access ways through to Ōtākou,” he said.

The rōpu who took part in the hīkoi ranged in age from 17-67. They visited the whare of Tūtoko, took part in the repatriation and blessing of the pounamu, as well as cultural and archaeological investigations.

Kara Edwards says the hīkoi, which have become an annual event, are hugely appreciated by Makaawhio. “It is an incredible feeling to walk in the steps of our tīpuna. Everyone felt blessed to be able to go and we are immensely grateful to the Hollyford Track team for making this hīkoi possible. The Hollyford Team are just incredible and the manaaki we experienced was second to none. Their genuine desire to understand our cultural values and their respect for Ngāi Tahutanga was clear to all of us. This business is an asset to our people as it presents one of the best opportunities to include our history and values as part of the product. There is also a real willingness to offer opportunities to our rangatahi [young people]”.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism Chief Executive John Thorburn says the team has formed a strong relationship with Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio.

“Hollyford Track is an iwi-owned business which enables the iwi to add value as a key stakeholder in the area and it helps promote the tribe’s kaitiakitanga (guardianship) responsibilities over a landscape that bears their histories. It’s all part of the ancient and magical Hollyford Valley experience,” says John Thorburn.

Visit www.hollyfordtrack.com for more information.