KO AU Dr Terry Ryan

Whakapapa is a lifetime’s work for Dr Terry Ryan.

As a boy growing up in rural Waipu he would sit on the knee of his “Nannie” greataunt Annie McLeod, writing the names of tīpuna on the backs of old photographs. Terry devised a system to connect the subjects of the photos as they related to his aunt.

“I’d write it all out…and I know that proved a useful format when I started my work with the 1848 Ngāi Tahu Blue Book census all those years later.”

It has been almost 40 years since Terry started with pad and pen to build a whakapapa record for Ngāi Tahu. Over that time the iwi has embraced him as one of their own and Terry has come to feel as he “knows” each of the 1337 kaumātua (elders) recorded in that small blue book.

For almost 20 years he worked alone building the records in his impeccable hand writing until in 1992, two staff and computers were added to help with the task. It wasn’t until 2003 that Terry would finally make the move to the new technology.

“To me whakapapa means to create the “papa” within oneself. The “papa” is your rock, your anchor, your foundation. Whakapapa lives within, it can assist one’s own self and personal development . Turn the gaze inwards, correct one’s self and your world will change – this is whakapapa.”