In a thought-provoking and timely session given the ongoing celebrations of Matariki, Kāi Tahu and Te Ātiawa academic Megan Potiki presented as part of the 2023 Te Tumu Seminar Series on Wednesday this week. Her talk centred around the work of creating mana whenua narratives for various building and development sites around the city and the wider Ōtakou region. This includes work for puna kaukau, the police station, the hospital, George St, the university re-brand, Auahi Ora – Union, and Tunnel Beach. She’s also been part of the Te Rangihīroa student accommodation build in collaboration with Ngāti Mutunga of Taranaki.
Megan’s characteristic humour and honesty about the process of creating these narratives was both refreshing and profound. She stressed the importance of “getting it right with your own people”, being able to own your mistakes, and putting in the work to finding multiple credible sources. It’s also important to know when to give, when to take people with you and when to push for change. There is both privilege and responsibility that comes with being able to grow up living and learning from your own whenua and also for those who return to their roots.
Ultimately, Megan’s talk high-lighted the importance of bringing to life stories that are deeply rooted in the knowledge, practices and people of this whenua. The process of writing a narrative is complex, requiring a lot of research, collaboration, and hard work particularly when collaborating with your own hāpu. Names have power, and reinstating the mana associated with those names is vital in redressing some of the mamae caused by colonisation, and also celebrating the wealth and wisdom of generations that have come before us.
Early career Cook Island researchers shine at the Pacific Islands Universities Network Conference 2023 ki Rarotonga
Dr Emma Powell writes about her recent trip to Rarotonga for the 2023 Pacific Islands Universities Network Conference.
Established in 2012, the Pacific Islands Universities Network (PIURN) Conference was intended to “enable closer and meaningful collaboration” amongst a consortium of 14 universities located in the island-Pacific. Rarotonga was chosen as the location for the networks 5th meeting and several doctoral students and Otago staff travelled to the Cook Islands to participate in the regional conference on 4-6 July 2023.
Dr Emma Powell arranged a special session for Cook Islands early career researchers on 6 July local time. Inspired by the arrangement of a festschrift for Cook Islands scholar and educator, the late Dr Marjorie Crocombe, during the conference, the session was intended to honour an pioneering generation of scholars, many of whom were mentored by Dr Crocombe, and signal new turns in Cook Islands scholarship from a swelling critical mass of new Cook Islands researchers.
Inano Taripo Walter, who is a Cook Islands doctoral candidate with secondary supervision at Te Tumu, presented on the role of va‘ine Māori within the land court. She discussed the importance of piri‘anga (relationships), ‘akapapa‘anga (genealogies) and mana to understanding the significance of women in the arbitration of ‘enua (land) within Cook Islands society. Stacey Kokaua, a Cook Islands doctoral candidate in Otago’s English department, presented her early stages of research into Cook Islands Māori theoretical responses to ecocriticsm within literary studies. Liam Kokaua, a graduate of the University of Auckland’s Masters of Indigenous Studies programme, shared compelling research he’d undertaken about the pae maunga on Rarotonga. Liam has produced material for screen and a book that makes accessible ancient and new knowledge about tupuna maunga in the Cook Islands.
The session was well-attended by other Cook Islands and Pacific delegates. The Q&A session was engaging and the panel received an overwhelming number of questions and comments that showed enthuasism both for their respective projects and the wider project of Cook Islands scholarship.
Unexpectedly and with sadness, the session seemed even more poignant with the surprise passing of legendary Cook Islands scholar, musician, writer and public servant, Professor Jon Jonassen, on the first day of the PIURN Conference. Professor Jonassen was widely acknowledged as an expert on Cook Islands peu Māori (cultural traditions), tua ta‘ito (ancients stories) and the Cook Islands drumming tradition. His passing during the conference was a shock to many attending and was felt sharply during the session.
Acknowledgements must also go to Univeristy of Otago colleagues who presented at the conference: Dr Moira Fortin Cornejo (Languages and Cultures) and Dr Jesse Kokaua & Dr Troy Ruhe (Va‘a o Tautai). Dr Powell also presented at the festschrift session for Dr Crocombe where she spoke to a brief paper titled: “That we may be proud of our heritage”, Marjorie Crocombe & Pacific Literature.
Last week Te Tumu celebrated well with the retirement of Emeritus Professor Lachy Paterson and the arrival of new Māori Studies pūkenga, Roma Donaldson-Gush. Roma, of Ngāti Porou, Taranaki, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Kotirana descent, joins Te Tumu staff with a background in bilingualism and intergenerational language and culture transmission for Māori. Roma will be completing her PhD studies as well as teaching into the Māori Studies programme. She is a Te Tumu alumnus having previously completed postgraduate study looking at Te Reo Māori in urban New Zealand. The pōhiri, held on Wednesday 28 June, included representatives from Office of Māori Development, Te Huka Mātauraka, Te Rōpū Māori, staff from Te Tumu and the wider university. Roma was supported by her whānau, colleagues, and friends in a day filled with the celebration of new relationships and excitement for the future of Te Tumu.
Ara mai he tētēkura, wehe atu he tētēkura. With a new frond beginning, a mature frond leaves.
With over 16 years of service as a teacher, mentor, friend, and conspirator, Lachy Paterson was farewelled in an intimate gathering of colleagues and whānau on Friday 30 June. Many spoke of the contributions Lachy has made to Māori Studies, Te Tumu and the university as a whole with several teaching, administration and leadership roles. Stories unfolded about his days as a student, teaching fellow and ultimately his unrelenting commitment to Te Tumu. Although it was a bittersweet day, Te Tumu looks forward to a continuing relationship with Lachy as an emeritus professor and eagerly await his future publications and foray into YouTube.