Dec 22, 2019

Haare Williams: Words of a Kaumātua

Nā Haare Williams and Witi Ihimaera
Auckland University Press 2019
RRP: $49.99
Review nā Charisma Rangipunga

When I settled down to read through this book – a collection of poems, essays, and memoirs by Haare Williams – I was not sure what to expect. I diligently read the introduction and then dove into the first section. It is fair to say that my eyes started to glaze over and I wondered if indeed I was going to be able to find something to hold my attention. Nothing was sparking; the words and the structure of the compositions seemed too simple.

On page 42 I found it. I read the poem “Tāwhiri, Kaitiaki of Winds”. It was similar to the others I had read, a mixture of Māori and English text, but again in very plain language unadorned with the Panekiretanga or Shakespearean complexity I had initially expected. But “Tāwhiri” sounded familiar. I felt like I knew it. I felt like I had read it elsewhere.

And then it dawned on me. Whakapapa. Haare Williams was using this poem to teach whakapapa. The whakapapa of the winds. Like Matiaha in Te Waiatatanga mai o te Atua; it was a different whakapapa but whakapapa all the same. Easily formatted, with a rhythm and simplicity that make it accessible. Hidden in plain sight, told naturally, yet with a sophistication that is just clever. I went back to page one and started again, eyes unglazed, and kicking myself for not seeing it sooner.

The journey through the pages of this book is a journey of lessons. For me, each composition challenged me with questions. There was so much that I could relate to personally, and even relate to when thinking of us as Ngāi Tahu. The story of Hora Ngārangi and Teu Ngārangi, sacrificed for the betterment of the people, sacrificed unnecessarily perhaps because of ego, because of carelessness. I cried. I hope to never shed similar tears for what we as Ngāi Tahu might one day sacrifice.

Irihapeti Murchie and the amazing legacy of our wāhine Māori throughout time. I cheered. Where are our Ngāi Tahu tīpuna wāhine in our cultural narratives, and how do we use them and the stories of their deeds to help create new generations of strong Ngāi Tahu women?

And finally the power of storytelling, of prose, of poetry. They are tools with which you can change history and you can change futures. Haare implores us to tell stories. To lift people with our stories. To tell a story the people want to hear. To let our stories move mountains. To let them change the world. Because stories do not end with our ancestors, they carry on with us, and are immortalised through our tamariki, through our mokopuna. They live on. I pondered. Ngāi Tahu, what is our story, and who are our storytellers?

Kei te pōua e Haare, i ō kupu, i te rētō o te whakaaro, i te kōroto o te huatau, i te rerehua o tēnei o ngā puka, kei te mihi.

Charisma Rangipunga (Ngāi Tahu, Taranaki, Ngāti Kahungunu) is the deputy Chair of the Māori Language Commission, author, composer and māmā of three sons.

Whatu Kākahu: Māori Cloaks

Edited nā Awhina Tamarapa
Te Papa Press 2019
RRP: $75.00
Review nā Paula Rigby

If ever there was a book that took an in-depth look at cloak making, this is it. Through the eyes of experts, the inner sanctum of Te Papa Tongarewa Storage Room Te Whare Pora o Hine-te-Iwaiwa, is opened and explored in this beautiful, award-winning book. Awhina Tamarapa has gathered a collection of essays from expert practitioners, academics, and curators who discuss the techniques used in the construction of kākahu. Contributors also endeavour to explain the cultural and spiritual significance of the art form, and share what is known of the rich, vibrant history of these garments.

In this, the second edition, a new chapter is included that looks at additions to the collection since 2011. It cleverly connects the value placed on these pieces by weavers, researchers, and custodians, as they share their personal journeys with some of the garments in the collection, showing how these treasures inspire and inform cloak making of today.

The superb photography throughout this book captures the beauty of these works. This book celebrates the science and the mātauranga behind the art form. It is a truly exceptional book, and a taonga in itself.

Paula Rigby (Ngāi Tūāhuriri) is a skilled weaver, with many years of experience. She is currently Deputy Chair of Te Rōpū Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa (National Weavers Committee). Paula has been commissioned to make taonga pieces for international and national collections.

Jobs, Robots & Us: Why the Future of Work in New Zealand is in Our Hands

Nā Kinley Salmon
Bridget Williams Books
RRP: $39.99
Review nā Dr Eruera Tarena

In 2013, a University of Oxford study found that half of all jobs in the United States were at risk of being fully automated in 20 years. This was followed by a 2015 study by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research that found 46 per cent of New Zealand jobs are at risk of computerisation by 2035. Since then there has been a range of sensationalist headlines creating a climate of fear and trepidation about technological change and implications for the future of work.

Kinley Salmon’s new book provides a thoughtful, evidence-based, and fresh new look at the dominant narrative of “the end of days”, and reminds us all that the future is something we create, not inherit. Our future is the result of the choices, priorities, and policy decisions we make moving forward – kei a tātou te mana!

He begins by challenging much of the hype surrounding attention-grabbing headlines to remind us that we currently have more working-age New Zealanders in work than ever before. We are generally richer, live longer, and are more educated than
40 years ago.

He uses the metaphor of a waka, whereby if everyone is paralysed by fear and resigned to the falsehood that our future is predetermined, then we all give up paddling and just float at the whim of global currents. To counter this he presents a range of future scenarios and human stories to enlighten us on potential scenarios. What if innovation creates lots of new and exciting jobs? What if innovation destroys jobs? What if we have a universal income and work isn’t a central part of our lives in the future? This book aims to start kōrero about what kind of future we should aim for, and reminds us of our ability to shape the future.

Fortunately, it has been written by a young Pākehā man from Nelson who draws on the latest international evidence, but anchors this in a uniquely Aotearoa context, where being an island helps insulate us somewhat from global forces. His use of evidence and good storytelling presents a very balanced, informed, and ultimately human story of the challenges, opportunities, and choices we face moving forward.

He does not focus on Māori issues, but the evidence does show there is a real threat that technology will increase inequalities, which has significant implications for Māori. Our education system isn’t keeping up now with the pace of change or delivering equitable outcomes for Māori. Therefore, radical change is needed to connect our fast-growing rangatahi population to future opportunities.

The debate also raises questions for iwi. We are not powerless, and, like Government, the policy and investment decisions we make moving forward can create good jobs, create bad jobs, or eliminate jobs altogether. We too need to own our power to influence and shape the future our mokopuna will inherit, and recognise that the choices we make can create a future of prosperity for all our people – tino rangatiratanga in action!

Ultimately this book carries a message of hope and agency – reminding us that we can steer our waka towards the future we want to aim for, but also warning us that if we do not act, we risk just being paddlers on someone else’s waka.

Dr Eruera Tarena (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāī Tūāhuriri, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Apanui). Eru is the Kaihautū of Tokona Te Raki, an iwi-led movement to create a future where all our tamariki thrive.

Te Rātaka a Tama Hūngoingoi – Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Nā Jeff Kinney
Penguin Books 2019
RRP: $17.99
Review nā Kiniwai Morgan

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a pakiwaituhi (cartoon/story) that has been translated into te reo Māori. It is about a boy named Greg Heffley and his life. Greg Heffley is a middle school student who can’t stand the eggs, the bullies, or the girls at his school. I like this book because if you are learning how to speak Māori it will help you learn new words and new ways of saying things. I also think that you have to be quite good at Māori to read this book.

This book made me laugh multiple times. I would rate this book four out of five, because some parts of it were not as interesting as other parts. I think the moral of the story is: live your life like a normal kid, get into trouble, be naughty, argue, and test the rules.

Ahakoa ko wai nō hea te tangata, ka piki, ka heke te wairua i ngā āhuatanga o te wā, engari kaua e mate wheke me mate ururoa! This book is good – you should read it!

Kiniwai Morgan (9)
Ko Ōteauheke te maunga whakairo
Ko Awa Iti e rere ki Akaroa
Ko Ngāti Irakehu Ngāi Tārewa
ki Ōnuku ngā hapū
Ko Kiniwai Sandy Morgan ahau
E iwa ōku tau, ko te skate park
he wāhi taurikura mōku!

Opinions expressed in REVIEWS are those of the writers and are not necessarily endorsed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.