OPINION: To many indigenous people, the marae or wharenui is a place of great cultural significance. It is a place where we come together to welcome new people to our whenua, to celebrate life, to mourn those who have passed. It is a place where we can address past grievances, express ourselves and resolve our differences.
Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou is the only Whare Wānanga in the country that does not have an on-campus marae. An on-campus marae would provide a place for all tauira to come together and celebrate the unique culture of Aotearoa. In order to make the aspirations of tauira a reality, the Whare Wānanga needs a directive to engage with local iwi on our behalf. Therefore, in the upcoming referendum you will all have the opportunity to direct OUSA to support the establishment of an on-campus marae and ask the University to approach local iwi on our behalf.
To New Zealand communities, the marae has been a place where we all can seek refuge during times of emergency. When the earthquakes hit Ōtautahi, the surrounding Kāi Tahu marae opened their doors to those who needed a place to sleep, when Kaikoura was hit and cut off from the rest of the country it was Takahanga Marae and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu who stepped up and provided for the community. When the Rangitāiki awa burst its banks and submerged Edgecumbe it was Rautahi marae who opened its doors and fed the people.
Māori is a blanket term to describe the numerous first nation tribes of Aotearoa. As we all study and live on the whenua of He Tangata o Ōtākou, Puketeraki and Moeraki, we need to understand and celebrate the unique culture of Kāi Tahu iwi and the differences between all iwi throughout Aotearoa. To clarify any queries resulting from last week’s ODT article, Kāi Tahu marae are an important aspect of Kāi Tahu culture, traditionally we were a nomadic people and therefore affiliate to many areas throughout Te Waipounamu, we traveled seasonally and did not necessarily stay in one place over multiple generations. This does not take away the importance of marae for my people, instead it makes the Kāi Tahu, Waitaha and Kāti Mamoe iwi unique alongside the numerous iwi within Aotearoa.