Treasures of Tāne: Plants of Ngāi Tahu

Nā Rob Tipa
Hui Publishers 2018
RRP $50.00
Review nā Arielle Monk

Rob Tipa artfully weaves together mātauranga (knowledge) from an array of sources in Treasures of Tāne. He displays a true knack for research, with references from early settler records, Pākehā anthropologists’ observations of Māori life, and the scant (and therefore all the more precious) pieces of oral history some Ngāi Tahu whānau preserved through the past century.

Rob has skilfully written this painstaking research into columns in the pages of this magazine for 14 years. Now, each one graces the pages of Treasures of Tāne, a treasure trove in itself, saving flora, rongoā Māori, or general bush-whacker enthusiasts the need to visit a dozen libraries across Te Waipounamu to gather a similar amount of knowledge.

A convenient one-stop shop, if you will.

Each alphabetically-categorised column offers a brilliant, full-sized photograph of the rākau being explored, allowing for easy identification in the bush. The written explorations include the Māori, botanical, and common names; as well as typical size, with comments on the appearance, attributes, and uses of the plant. The aforementioned research is also often richly coloured with first-hand historical accounts or associated Māori myths.

Reading Treasures of Tāne is not simply an exercise in exploring bush lore – the reader is treated to history, culture, and language in the form of bite-sized, relevant stories.

My only regret for this book is that it is not more conveniently sized as a tramper’s companion.

In August this year TE KARAKA staff were privileged to attend the launch of this beautiful pukapuka at the University Book Shop in Ōtepoti, and to celebrate the hard work of our columnist and feature writer, Rob Tipa (Ngāi Tahu – Moeraki). Rob’s column, He Aitaka a Tāne, has long been a highlight of this magazine. Each column features a native plant of Te Waipounamu, and gives an engaging and informative account of its traditional uses. It is wonderful to see this mātauranga collated into one book – a true taonga.

Arielle Kauaeroa Monk (Tainui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa, Muaūpoko, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngā Rauru) is the editor for Te Pānui Rūnaka, the Ngāi Tahu monthly newsletter. She moved to Ōtautahi four years ago to work as a journalist and thus began a relationship with the local iwi and tāngata. Arielle currently works as a freelance writer and communication consultant and loves to promote the Māori narrative and perspective in journalism, fiction and non-fiction writing.

He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao

Nā Tā Timoti Kāretu rāua ko Tākuta Wharehuia Milroy
Auckland University Press 2018
RRP $59.99
Review nā Tiaki Coates

E aku huāka, kua riro māku te whakaputa whakaaro mō He Kupu Tuku Iho mai i kā tipua o te reo Māori, arā, ko Tā Tīmoti Kāretu rāua ko Tākuta Wharehuia Milroy. Auē! Ko te reo tuatahi i hāparaki mai i taku pīnati, ko tēnei, ‘e tama, ka kore koe e paku mārama ki kā kupu o roto!” Heoi anō, ahakoa taku iti, he iti matā, nā reira au i tere whakaae ki tēnei wero.

Hika mā, mai i te whāraki tuatahi i whakamīharo katoa au ki te haere tahi o te ātaahua rirerire, me te matatau o te reo – he tohuka whakairo whakaaro te tokorua nei. Heoti, inā te māmā, te kāwari, te humārie hoki. Nā, ahakoa te hōhonu o kā mātauraka, ka kore te takata e toromi – he kaha nō rāua ki te āta whakamārama atu he aha tā rāua i kite atu ai. Ko te take pea, he pitopito kōrero ā-waha ēnei nā Tā Timoti rāua ko Te Wharehuia. Me mihi ka tika ki a Tania Ka’ai rāua ko te hākoro katahi anō ka hopukina e te kupeka a Taramainuku, arā ko Te Murumāra. Nā rāua anō i kōkiri tēnei mahi nui whakaharahara mā tātou katoa.

Kua kikī tonu te pātaka kōrero o He Kupu Tuku Iho ki kā whakaaro Māori me te tirohaka whānui. Mā Te Wharehuia ētahi o kā kaupapa kōrero e kaikākaunuitia e ia, pērā i te “wairua”, te “tapu”, te “mana”, me te “whakapapa”. Mā Tā Tīmoti ōnā ake, pērā i te ‘‘A” me te “O”, tā te Māori titiro ki tōna ao, me “te reo kia tika”. Waihoki mā rāua anō e kōrero tahi mō ētāhi take nui mō Kāi Tāua pērā i te “reo ā-iwi”, te “takahia te tikaka, kia ora ai te tikaka”, me te “oraka o te reo”.

Kāore e ārikarika kā mihi mai i te tokorua nei ki tēnei reaka e hoe kaha nei i tō tātou nei waka reo Māori mō kā uri whakaheke. Waihoki, ka whakahua ake rāua i ētahi tauira o te oraka o te reo, pērā i tō tātou nei manukura, i a Tākuta Hana O’Regan. Mei kore ake koe e Hana, hei pou reo mō tātou, mō kā uri o Tahu. Ka mutu, ka waiho ake tēnei whakahau a Tīmoti ki a tātou katoa kā kaihoe o te waka nei, “kei tēnei reaka te oraka o te reo”. Kāore pea he kupu i tua atu i ērā hei whakatepe i tēnei kōrero.

Nā reira e te iwi, kauraka e māharahara pēnei i au nei. Ahakoa kei tēhea kōeke koe i te poutama reo Māori, ki te ruku koe ki roto i kā wai ora o He Kupu Tuku Iho ka whai oraka anō mōhou, mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei. Hoake!

Tiaki Coates (Kāti Huirapa ki Waihao) is a youth and community worker, story teller and adventurer. He is passionate about reviving healthy rites of passage for rakatahi, and is currently a lead facilitator on the Ngāi Tahu programmes Aoraki Bound and Manawa Hou. Tiaki is based in Whaingaroa, Raglan, with his partner Madi and three-year-old son Tāwhai.

Te Kōparapara: An Introduction to the Māori World

Edited by Michael Reilly, Suzanne Duncan, Gianna Leoni, Lachy Paterson, Lyn Carter, Matiu Rātima, and Poia Rewi
Auckland University Press 2018
RRP $69.99
Review Nā Gerry Te Kapa Coates

This book originated from teachers and researchers at the University of Otago, as they say, “under the mana of the people of this land, Kāi Tahu.” The title is a reference to the historical southern name for the bellbird, te kōparapara – also a metaphor for the beautiful voice of a singer or speaker. The book falls into three parts: Foundations, looking into the deeper meanings of cultural ideas and practices; Histories, a timeline of the steady loss of autonomy resulting from colonisation; and Futures, about the experimentation going on within contemporary Māori society to address the challenges of a post-Treaty settlement era.

The first section deals with the origins of Māori beliefs and values, and the effect of the arrival of Christian missionaries on existing traditions. Questions such as: Did Io – the supreme being – initiate the creative process? Was Io the highest, a supreme being from antiquity; or merely a creation to counter the inroads of Christianity? Perhaps rather than Io, the focus was on Rangi and Papatūānuku in oral culture where women were equal partners complementing men, and written about by for example Kāi Tahu elder Matiaha Tiramōrehu in 1849. A rather dense section on Tikanga (“How not to get told off”) briefly explores concepts such as mana, tapu, noa, mauri, wairua, and utu. A chapter on social structure looks at kinship groups, particularly hapū; and the underpinning scaffolding and identity of whakapapa – the “key organising principle in Māori society” connecting time-past to the present. It also discusses the practice of whāngai as a more temporary form than European adoption, which was legislated in Aotearoa in 1881. The trials and triumphs of waka migration are investigated, and how early arrivals managed to look after their new-found land and its resources after arrival through concepts of kaitiakitanga or stewardship. Institutions such as marae and their rituals such as tangihanga complete this section, and are fruitful resources as an “introduction” to these topics.

The Histories section is organised into three phases – pre-Treaty of Waitangi, colonisation, and the post-World War II era, “…when Māori transformed into a largely urban society.” The meeting between peoples from the world’s largest continent, Eurasia, with those of the “world’s last-settled islands in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean” was bound to be fraught. After initial contact with explorers like James Cook came sailors, whalers, and sealers (and ex-convicts) – a potent mix for Māori to adjust to. Māori also became popular recruits to the whaling fleets. Hundreds set sail, bringing back new knowledge – as did the missionaries – on their return. A series of “confident and capable” Māori leaders also emerged, not without internal conflict such as between Te Rauparaha and Ngāi Tahu, which was “aggravated by the consequences of their relationships with Europeans.” Colonisation and the impact of the burgeoning number of settlers quickly changed the balance between Māori and Pākehā. Tensions began developing because of the Government’s assumptions of sovereignty competing with Māori understandings of mana that escalated from rebellion into war, first in Taranaki, and then in the Waikato. Even ostensibly fair deals such as the South Island Landless Natives Bill (SILNA) of 1906 effectively pauperised Ngāi Tahu by allowing buying most of their land “at rock-bottom prices”, and sowing the seeds of breach of contract and Te Kerēme. Urbanisation through attracting young Māori migrant workers away from their tribal areas to the cities changed the landscape of both Māori and Pākehā.

The final section, Futures, looks at “the many opportunities and challenges that Māori now face”, with chapters “welcoming the new dawn.” 1975 and the advent of the Waitangi Tribunal, and the extension of its powers in 1985 to hear Crown historical breaches back to 1840, were major milestones; and their repercussions are still ongoing. The nefarious “fiscal envelope” attempt to cap the total amount of settlements at a billion dollars doesn’t seem to be discussed. Māori language and health initiatives are covered, considering also the idea that “Mōteatea are fundamental to understanding the Māori world view and hauora.” Lyn Carter’s chapter, “Māori and Indigenous Knowledge in Development Contexts”, is an interesting look at “values-based development.” She uses the Ngāi Tahu tītī resource as a case study on the “intergenerational nature of indigenous development.” She also looks at the intergenerational aspects of Māori economic aspirations. Māori have also shown an affinity to using new technology to “exercise, practise, and promote their culture.” It remains to be seen how technology will impact beneficially on kanohi ki te kanohi interactions, particularly in te reo Māori. The concept of “what it means to be Māori” gives rise to the “imagined ideas” of Māori as an “actual’ group”. These range from the old “colonial mindset” of an inferior status to dealing with continuing stereotypes of physical appearance, fluency in te reo, performing arts, etc. The conclusion is that “there is no single Māori reality”, and “Whakapapa Māori and self-identification as Māori link all of these ideas together.”

This book is not a superficial introduction to the Māori world. Rather, it is a considered response to those who want to know about Māori strengths and aspirations, as well as the tarnished history of how we got to this place of present and future opportunity.

Gerry Te Kapa Coates (Ngāi Tahu, Waihao) was born in Ōāmaru, and has had poems, book, and theatre reviews and stories in Huia Short Stories collections 4, 5, and 7; and other publications including Landfall, Mana magazine and Ora Nui 3, as well as a wide variety of non-fiction espousing environmental issues, amongst other themes. His collection of poems and short stories from 1961–2011, The View From Up There, was published by Steele Roberts. Gerry was a panellist at the 2013 Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. He also works as a consultant and commissioner on RMA and similar EPA hearings, as well as being an author and doing Māori and technology advisory work.

Veganism in an Oppressive World: A Vegans of Color Community Project

Edited by Julia Feliz Brueck
Sanctuary Publishers 2017
RRP $10.99
Review nā Philip McKibbin

Veganism is becoming increasingly popular here in Aotearoa. Earlier this year, it was announced that our country’s largest marae, Tūrangawaewae, was “going vegan” for its people’s health; and I was one of many who participated in Pipiri ki a Papatūānuku, which urged us to ditch meat and dairy for the environment.

As Feliz Brueck notes in her introduction to this collection, veganism is, first and foremost, for animals. Unfortunately, it is still widely viewed as a “white” thing – but, as the 19 contributors to this book testify, it connects to the experience of all peoples, including indigenous peoples. (If it seems a lot to ask indigenous people to go vegan when so many non-indigenous people don’t, it is worth remembering Paulo Freire’s claim that “the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed” is to liberate our oppressors as well.)

This important book is a community-led project by “vegans of colour”, and collects poetry, reflective essays, and interviews. It explores the ways in which the various forms of oppression – especially racism and speciesism – intersect. It claims that, in order to be ethically consistent, veganism must be more responsive to human concerns. As Feliz Brueck writes, “A strawberry may be meat and dairy-free, but depending on where it came from it may not actually be vegan in the fullest sense of the word.” If it was produced under conditions of human exploitation, does it count as “ethical”’?

Some of the editor’s conclusions are radical – for example, her suggestion that, as human beings, vegans are oppressors in the “human–non-human relationship”, and so are inherently speciesist. (This is equivalent to the claim that all Pākehā are racist – a statement that is not only counter-productive, but demonstrably false.) Many Ngāi Tahu will balk at the editor’s confrontational stance, and rightly so: if we are going to achieve progress on the issues that underpin veganism, and the broader emancipatory project to which it connects, it will be by working together, and this will require a conciliatory tone.

Nonetheless, this book has a lot to teach us. Margaret Robinson’s essay, especially, relates to our experience as Ngāi Tahu. Robinson is a Mi’kmaw woman, of the Mi’kmaq people of modern-day Canada. She sensitively explores the conflict between her veganism and the exercise of her people’s treaty rights in explaining her decision to protest against their deer hunting – which is akin to many of our mahinga kai practices. Robinson writes:

“Unfortunately, I know that failing to exercise Indigenous treaty rights has repeatedly resulted in their denial by Settlers, both here and in the US; so, the ability to exercise treaty rights is vital to securing justice for Indigenous people. I also thought about what my relationship of respect and kinship with other animals requires me to do when those siblings are in danger. I bought an orange poncho and an air horn, but I felt conflicted about using them.”

Another excellent contribution is Saryta Rodríguez’s essay, “Move to Berkeley! and Other Follies”, a well-reasoned piece which will be of interest to all those in the vegan community.

Together, the pieces in the collection nudge our planet closer toward justice.

Philip McKibbin is an independent writer of Pākehā and Ngāi Tahu descent. He holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Auckland, and is currently studying te reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

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