“He aha te mea nui o tēnei ao, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata…”
What is the most important thing in this world, it is people, it is people, it is people
Aoraki Bound has been experienced by over 300 whānau across Aotearoa. Below is a list of all our alumni, and further below, are more testimonials from those who have completed Aoraki Bound.
“My Aoraki Bound experience was life changing, it has inspired me to not only live a healthier lifestyle but to encourage and inspire my whanau to live that life too.”“I learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of.”
“Without a doubt I would convince everyone and anyone to attend Aoraki Bound, it really was the making of me and I intend to do whatever I can to give back to Ngai Tahu for this experience.”
Photo by Tony Gomez.
“… Aoraki Bound was for me, the merging of the whenua with the spiritual; the tangible with the intangible. Now, more than ever I am committed to spending more time in the outdoors and connecting to the whenua, as well as saying Yes more often! Thank you Aoraki Bound for an a journey like no other….”
“… My “Aoraki Bound Experience” was life changing, it has inspired me to not only live a healthier lifestyle but to encourage and inspire my whanau to live that life too. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given, I will continue to encourage and inspire my whanau to take up the torch and follow in me and my Tipuna’s footsteps……”
“…This course has given my Reo Maori the boost that it needed. I am currently thinking of ways to help our reo and I am starting an everyday Te Reo Maori course here in Wellington. I broke boundaries that had restricted me in past. My self-esteem is at an all-time high and I have much more positive outlook on life…”
“…I was constantly amazed at the many and varied talents shared and the true manaakitanga shown by each and every person. I was reminded of the power of a group and what can be achieved when everyone works together and supports each other to achieve.
Where to from here? There are so many things I would like to continue – the running in the morning and the physical fitness but most of all my connection with Ngai Tahu, to become involved with Ngai Tahu whānau in Auckland, to learn te reo and in so doing learn more about our Ngai Tahu culture and customs.
I feel very privileged to have had this unique opportunity offered through Aoraki Bound and would recommend it to everyone. You can do it! Given the chance I would do it all again! …”
“…It re rea, teitei. Kahikatea kaitaia. Even the smallest bird can climb the tallest tree by just jumping from branch to branch. For me this was the feeling going into Aoraki bound. An impossible task, that I would never be accepted and that I would spend the whole time on the edges, scared and hiding. This was not the case, I was able to climb and I was able to soar on the winds at the top of the Kahikatea…”
“…Personally, not being from Ngai Tahu or any other iwi, I may have been slightly apprehensive about the cultural aspect however it was enlightening and a great experience to witness and partake in ancient Maori traditions; historical sights; travel routes from centuries ago; waiata & haka; & te reo. Aoraki Bound was a thoroughly rewarding and fun experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any New Zealander…”
“…The challenges kept coming, (and they weren’t just physical ones) they were overcome and it felt great. Being supported by and supporting 13 amazing people and the facilitators made me realize the power of unity – Te tūka kahikatea. I now stand taller and stronger in a stand of kahikatea. I came home physically and emotionally healthier and with a sense of what truly is important in my life.
Thank you Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Outward Bound…”
“…I learnt so much about myself and what I am capable of and by believing I can overcome any obstacle, was a light bulb moment for me. The next step is to bring this learning into my everyday life, this is the hard part for me but now I have a path to follow and I am working on this every day now that I have done this amazing course…”
Ko Samantha McGavock toku ikoa, I was lucky enough to be a part of Aoraki Bound 14, Kupe Watch 456 which took place this March. I am writing this firstly to thank you for the sponsorship which made it possible to attend, and also to try and articulate just how phenomenal the lessons that I am taking away with me are.
My older sister Kristen attended Aoraki Bound in 2004. Kristen had always RAVED about her participation in the course, claiming that it was one of the greatest experiences in her life, and her and her fiancé have travelled all over the world! I had always wanted to take up the challenge, but my student income meant that it would be something I took on further down the track. I would not have been able to take up this opportunity had Kai Tahu not offered such generous financial aid and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity. We learnt a lot about Maori leadership and community involvement as part of our journey and I hope that I can find a way to contribute to the future of Kai Tahu in a meaningful way in order to reciprocate the kindness shown to me.
In every single way, Aoraki Bound was more than I had expected it to be. When I was given the opportunity to attend I thought “A bit of light tramping, some kayaking, camping, learn about my culture, sure, how hard can it be?” Aoraki Bound was more challenging, more emotional, more enlightening, more entertaining than I had ever imagined. The wakes up were earlier, the runs longer, the hikes steeper, the sleeping conditions rougher, the morning swims colder than I ever expected. And guess what, I loved it. Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn’s message that “There is more in you than you think” was certainly something I understood by the end of the course. I found that the course was run so well. Rangimarie, Chee, Pip and Alphie did a terrific job at integrating the objectives of Kai Tahu and the objectives of Outward Bound together.
I look forward to participating in Kai Tahu initiatives / starting some of my own and I will be recommending Aoraki Bound to anybody with a pulse. I just really wanted to get the point across that this experience is incredible and I hope it always continues.
Aoraki Bound was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. To begin with I was terrified, leaving behind my favorite things including facebook, straighteners and make up seemed like some form of torture. Healthy eating, exercise and water were all what I considered a recipe for disaster. Before arriving at Anakiwa I had it stuck in my head that Aoraki Bound was going to be my very own form of rehab. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and seriously underestimated how difficult and challenging the course I had just committed myself to was going to be. The first 3km run killed me. I felt like I was going to die, I wanted to give up and go home but I stayed and things got better. Every day there was a new challenge, which at the time seemed impossible and afterwards seemed unbelievable. Looking back on Aoraki Bound makes me wish I could go back and do it all again, I gained strength, discipline, determination and a whole lot more self-belief. Most importantly Aoraki Bound taught me never to give up and that yes I do have more in me, that nothing is impossible and that everything is achievable. Without a doubt I would convince everyone and anyone to attend Aoraki Bound, it really was the making of me and I intend to do whatever I can to give back to Ngai Tahu for this experience.
I feel so lucky to have been able to participate on Aoraki Bound, and would recommend it to anyone as it truly is an experience like no other. It really opened my eyes to Kāi Tahu values and my identity as a Kāi Tahu woman. Every day for 20 days I was challenged in so many ways; culturally, physically and mentally. I have been sharing my experiences on the course with my whānau, and will continue to pass on the stories and te reo we spoke to those around me. Before going on Aoraki Bound I had never had the opportunity to be fully integrated into Maori culture, and within the first hour we were all encouraged to speak Te Reo (a huge challenge for me!). I would never have thought that by the conclusion of the course we would be singing waiatas, doing hakas and saying our mihis fluently! Aoraki Bound provided an environment that was extremely supportive for those new to Te Reo, and the positive attitude of Iaean, Rangimarie and the other members of the rōpū really encouraged me to push myself. It has shown me how much you can achieve when you set your mind to a task, and allowed me to discover the accepting and powerful culture of Kāi Tahu.
The course was also physically and emotionally demanding, pushing all fourteen of us to our limits on every mission. But the rewards that we shared through pushing ourselves and the group were unbelievable. I achieved so much on Aoraki Bound that I never thought was possible. Everyday was an adventure with surf kayaking, camping, sailing, waka ama, tramping and crossing the finish line after a half marathon at the base of Aoraki.
One particularly magical experience we had was at the summit of Noti Raureka. When we arrived after waking at dawn and tramping all morning up a very steep incline, the view was hidden by fog – we could barely see a metre ahead of us! We realized that we had not done our morning karakia, and after saying it and performing a haka, the fog lifted entirely, leaving blue skies and a breath-taking view to the east coast. This experience gave our rōpū the energy we needed to complete our hikoi, we didn’t stop talking about it for days! This was one of the many moments that made our rōpū realize our strong connection to our ancestors and the land. It has also motivated me into encouraging those around me to think and act sustainably to protect our environment, as we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
I hope to incorporate the experiences I have had on Aoraki Bound into my architectural design work as a student and in the future. Thank you for giving me this experience of a lifetime, they are memories that I will always treasure.
Nā, Charlotte Stewart
Aoraki Bound 13
Personally, I have gained more of a sense of what I should be pursuing in terms of my passions in life. As a result of Aoraki Bound, I am able to recognise the things in life that matter to me more clearly and see them as legitimate paths to pursue, rather than a hobby or spare-time activity. Although I will have a long path ahead in order to create this new vision for my life, I am confident in my strength of will to achieve it. Strength of will is also something I learnt a lot about. Most of the difficulty lies in your head. Believing something will happen will ensure a better chance of its reality, both good and bad. It’s easier to get to the end if you focus on the goal, rather than the noise distracting you. All these things have been reinforced within my way of thinking about tasks and problems.
Living in Wellington with working long hours as a lifestyle, Aoraki bound was a timely reminder that it is important to touch base with our people, our whenua and our whakapapa on a regular basis. If not only in the name of good personal health, but as a good health check for all things that matter to our whānau, hapū and iwi. It reminded me of what is able to be achieved when you move as a whānau and draw on each others strengths and skills – this can get you through anything, even the seemingly impossible. It also reminded me of how young our people are (or how I am getting older!) and how the future is so bright with these kind of stars filling our skies. It also reminded me of how precious our kaumātua are, but this is not news. It was exciting and humbling to visit and contribute in our own way to the new marae development at Ngāti Waewae and be part of an initiative such as Aoraki bound – both of which would not have been possible without the many years and remarkable intrepid journey completed by our tīpuna in traversing the treacherous landscape of Te Kereme.
For me, Aoraki Bound was a journey of a lifetime. I call Aoraki Bound a journey rather than a course as it was a journey in every sense of the word. We travelled far and wide to arrive at our Mauka ariki ko Aoraki. I cannot explain by words alone the journey I undertook on this hikoi as words do not encompass the beauty of the people, the land and the interconnectedness of the two worlds. One of the goals I set for myself before the course was to push myself beyond my comfort zone. This was achieved beyond my wildest thoughts. Daily, I encountered new and challenging adventures which I believe have given me increased self belief and confidence. I now have a new sense of perspective of what I am able to achieve which in turn raises the expectations I have for myself. After the programme I believe I have more to offer the community, my whanau, marae, collegues and the students’ I work with. The values that are adhered to on the programme assist me in all aspects of my personal and professional life. It is for these reasons that I am so eager for everyone to participate on Aoraki Bound and have a journey of a lifetime.
Where to start? No two ways about it – it really was one of the best things I have ever done! And the good thing is that it was something I really wanted to do for myself, not something that someone suggested or thought would be good for me – but something I wanted and then set out to get. I have always known that my whānau are Ngāi Tahu and that we came from Akaroa…….. but that was about it. I have always been quietly humbled and envious when listening to and being around Māori, to hear the language and beautiful songs, to see how proud they were, how warm and welcoming they are of their homes, to see the strength and happiness in their whānau. It’s hard to put my finger on, but there is a real strength in all of that. That was something that one of my rōpū told me in our feedback – that there is a real strength in being a Māori woman. And I know she was right. So my challenge continues……!! I would really like to thank Ngāi Tahu for this fantastic opportunity – for providing the journey and assisting me to take it – I feel very privileged and would do it all again tomorrow!!
I believe the main thing I got out of the course was a greater understanding and appreciation for what Ngāi Tahu culture is all about. I went into the course knowing very little about the people I work for but believe I have come out knowing a lot more about who they are and where they come from. It was an awesome experience to be able to stand on and see the places that were in the all of the stories we got told. But overall it was a great experience to meet a whole lot of new people and enjoy all of the activities that the course had to offer. The course has definitely changed my cultural awareness, not in terms of my perception as such but my understanding and knowledge of cultural issues. I believe this is something that I will never lose as well as something I can look to expand on through further learning. It was also a good opportunity to experience a lot of different activities that you don’t often find yourself in and it is interesting to see how people respond in certain situations. I believe it is a good tool for anyone no matter who you are, to further learn about not only Ngāi Tahu but also about the other people in your group and about yourself along the way.
As a whole Aoraki Bound has taught me more about myself than anything I’ve ever done. The friendships and bonds that grew on our journey will always bind us together as a roopu and eventually our iwi where we can value our collective strength and identity and realise the privilege it is to be Ngāi Tahu. I have learnt a great deal about myself, my abilities and the restrictions I had placed on myself. The most evident example would be my boost of confidence and just to do what I want to do in life! The possibilities are endless – basically the ability to live my dream. The course has helped me find my voice not in a literal sense but my passion. Aoraki Bound will forever act as a turning point for me. Deciphering what is important in life and what isn’t and in essence the core values that make me the person I am. It will represent the key to unlocking my journey of our tupuna and my heritage as a descendant of Ngāi Tahu.
For me, Aoraki Bound was an experience of a life-time. It provided a rewarding and unforgettable venture, which was physically challenging, spiritually uplifting and confidence building. This opportunity enhanced my cultural awareness, language skills and historical knowledge of Kāi Tahu. All were strengthened through exposure to the underpinning values of the course which are aroha ki te takata (respect for all); rakatirataka (realise your full potential for shared benefit); tohukataka (embrace every opportunity and commitment to our tribal values); and kaikōkiritaka (push beyond the boundaries). These were values of our ancestors, which provided links to the past, present and future through whakapapa, karakia, waiata, whakataukī, haka and origin stories. I would like to encourage others to take the challenge. The motto that Aoraki Bound uses states “Ekea kā tiritiri o te moana……Ascend the heights of your aspirations” Here I was, our ancestor Aoraki towering majestically before me, luring and inspiring me to succeed in the final climax of my adventure. I felt humbled and incredibly insignificant yet the manaaki and mana of Aoraki, my tipuna, enveloped me…I had just achieved one of my aspirations along the journey of life.
Prior to the course I thought I would struggle more than I did with all of the long days and early starts. However I surprised myself. I now have more belief in myself and find life less challenging at this stage after completing the course. The major thing I got from the course was experience first hand of Ngāi Tahu culture outside of the Banks Peninsula. Visiting pounamu trails and rock art opened my eyes and are now etched in my memory. Also the numerous teaching from Iaean were priceless and will hopefully carry me through into the future. The roopu and the close bonds we formed is another major aspect which can be taken from the course. On a personal note I believe I developed as a person and especially as a leader taking as many opportunities as they arose. Only positive aspects from Aoraki Bound have been taken and used in this post Aoraki Bound life. The course has renewed my goal to learn te reo as I want to be a fluent speaker so that I can carry on the language on the marae and to my children. Also by attaining the language, a full understanding of the Ngāi Tahu culture can be achieved. The experience also brought out some leadership qualities which had been rather dormant. Therefore I hope in the future to be more of a leader amongst my people. Finally I think the whole Aoraki Bound experience has told me to live up everyday, respect the environment, and to set my goals high as I am capable of anything.
From the moment I arrived in Anakiwa until I left it was always in the back of my mind the golden opportunity I had been given to be part of such an amazing course. This was reflected in every aspect of the hīkoi, not wanting any opportunity for learning to pass me by. Aoraki Bound to me was an experience of a lifetime. I met 10 strangers who soon became whānau, and our shared encounters will be with me forever. I try hard every day to apply the principles I learnt at Aoraki Bound and when I find myself with a decision to make I refer back to what I learnt on the course every time. I discovered many things about myself. One that I feel strongly about is that I wear many hats as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee and when I live in a day to day rut it is very easy to lose sight of my individuality, the things I aspire to and what drives me. Aoraki Bound has helped me rekindle those dreams. I have new goals set and Aoraki Bound has given me the tools to make it happen.
I found Aoraki Bound both challenging and rewarding. Learning about my Kai Tahutaka was one of the highlights of the course. I enjoyed being in a supportive environment while learning the karaka, karakia and waiata. I also found it rewarding being able to help others with their Te Reo Maori. Since returning I have signed up with the Kāi Tahu ki Rotorua Roopu and look forward to being involved. I will also keep my eyes open for any Te Reo wānaka as I would like to continue to develop my Kāi Tahutaka. I have also tried to take on the group’s feedback in my day to day life. I learnt a lot from the group feedback sessions. It is interesting to discover what other people believe your strengths and weaknesses are. I learnt from my group that I don’t realise how much potential I have and I need to believe in myself. Since returning I have enjoyed challenging myself and making the most of every day. I believe Aoraki Bound has already had a great influence in my life and will continue to have impact on my future. Recently it was great to hear my friend point out the changes that she has seen in me since I have returned. My friends are amazed how determined and motivated I have become in following my dreams and achieving my goals. I have developed a ‘just do it’ attitude.
I found the course to be a very valuable experience and I feel energised and my wairua towards our Ngāi Tahu culture strengthened. Through my work and personal interests, I have acquired good experience in the backcountry so I was very comfortable and not greatly challenged by the outdoor activities. However this meant at times I was able to contribute my knowledge and experience, which turned out to be a positive and actually quite confidence building. Some of the cultural aspects of the course challenged me. I find learning the reo particularly hard but I have come away with new knowledge skills and confidence. My pepeha has been improved. I learnt new waiata, karakia and haka, which I can use with confidence and will look for opportunities to keep the skills current. The course has given me the confidence to register with the Oraka Aparima Rūnaka and become more active and contribute to the mahi of the rūnaka and the tribe. In doing so, I have been amazed at the welcome and the amazing range of exciting opportunities to participate".
The following reflection was written by Huhana Carter while on Aoraki Bound (Feb 2009). “It summarises that I acknowledge as I tramped the tracks of our ancestors many things were different. However, even after so many generations, there are still many experiences that remain the same. “
Kā tapuwae o tātou tīpuna; kā mea he ōrite.
(The footsteps of our ancestors; the things that are the same.)
The early karakia of the manu
The twinkling of the stars
The lapping of the moana
The heat felt from Te Rā
The gathering of the clouds
The tramping of the paths
The gentle showers of rain
A longing thought for a nice warm bath
The twisting of the awa
The tumbling of the rocks
The tipping of the footholds
And a bruise or two from the knocks
The glistening of the water
The cold chill of the wind
The heavy weight carried on back and shoulders
But it’s taken on the chin
The freshness of te Ha
The gnarly shapes of kōhatu and pakiaka
The joy of waiata, kōrero and kata
Kā mahi o ka namunamu
Te tamoko o the kiri
Ekari, te tikaka o te rōpū
“kaua e amuamu”
The array of shades of colour, in the rākau, leaves and bark
Along with the cheerful mihi from the putiputi, sure lifts the heart
The staunchness of kā mauka
The view from the tihi
The performing of the haka there
“Āe! Ka mau te wehi!”