Remembering Where We’re From – the Maori of Aotearoa

Remembering Where We’re From – the Maori of Aotearoa

When you arrive at the Auckland Airport, you pass under a wooden archway with ceremonial carvings and there’s a recording of a Maori woman singing a karanga, welcoming travelers to New Zealand. Little did I know that in a few weeks, I would be welcomed to a Marae, a place where Maori meet for ceremonial, social and sacred gatherings. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

The Maori are the indigenous population of New Zealand. They arrived in canoes a thousand years ago, and discovered a country that was like a paradise: two islands that shared a pleasant climate, good hunting and plenty of natural resources. European colonists arrived in the 18th century. Since that time, there were periods of coexistence, trade, followed by battles, treaties and broken promises. Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the Maori were forced to not speak their language or practice their religious and other customs. They were deprived of any legal rights and their lands were confiscated. Over the past sixty years, this has gradually been changing. There are nearly 900,000 Maori in New Zealand, about 17% of the population. Maori youngsters are being taught their traditions again, and the Maori language appears on signage everywhere and in everyday speech. New Zealanders will greet you with kia ora instead of hello. It means “have life”. There’s a movement afoot to change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa, the Maori name for their country, which translates as “Land of the Long White Cloud.”

I came to Aotearoa as a Fulbright Specialist, working with students and others to tell their stories with the help of sound recordings. Whenever possible, I met with the Maori, and this podcast is a way for me to look back at some of those encounters and share them with you. I hope it will in some small way, provide a glimpse of a remarkable people who I was privileged to spend time with.

At the entrance of the Ti AuPouri Marae, there are calls and prayers. After which, guests are greeted by a long line of hosts. With men, It’s a touch of the forehead, with women, a kiss on both cheeks.
Then the affairs of the day get underway. Today, it’s a talk to help locals secure land rights.

Mariameno Kapakingi is CEO of the Ti AuPouri iwi on the North Island; iwi is the Maori word for tribe.

Penetaui Kleskovic is a Far North District Counselor. He’s part of a new generation of Maori – well educated, politically savvy and socially responsible. He takes me to a hill overlooking a vast tract of fertile land.
Across the road from the Te Aupouri Marae, I meet Toni Monroe, manager of a plant nursery.

Tahu McKenzie is a guide and educator at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on the South Island. At a bird feeding station, we listen to the sounds of kakas, bellbirds and other species.

Hoani Langsbury is the manager of operations at the Royal Albatross Center and a principal member of the Okatou Runaka Marae, on New Zealand’s South Island.

Over a three week period, I worked with professor Anne-Marie Jackson and her Maori graduate students at the University of Otago in Dunedin. The students were writing their dissertations, navigating the challenges of melding Maori stories, customs and traditions to a Western academic format. In the process, we touched on many of the deeper issues that arise when attempting to share the heart of a traditional culture.

I want to thank Hinemoa Elder who paved the way for many of the connections in the north island, also Nancy Longnecker, Gianna Savoie, Jesse Bering and Steve Ting at the University of Otago. My trip to NZ would not have been possible without their help. Thanks again to all those featured in the program: Penetaui Kleskovic, Mariameno Kapakingi, Toni Monroe, Tahu McKenzie, Hoani Langsbury, Anne-Marie Jackson and all her students. Finally, my thanks to The Fulbright Offices in both the US and NZ who helped me navigate the pathway to being a Fulbright Specialist. It’s a wonderful program, by the way. Check it out online. The music was from the CD book, “Singing Treasures” by Brian Flintoff, featuring musicians Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns. You can hear more of their music on the album Te Ku Te Whe (Fe) 1994, on Rattle Records, New Zealand. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Remembering Where We’re From – the Maori of Aotearoa

New Zealand's Maori are a living example to indigenous peoples worldwide of how to reclaim and rediscover their rich cultural heritage and their land.
Air Date:12/17/2023
Scientist:
Transcript:

Remembering Where We’re From – the Maori of Aotearoa When you arrive at the Auckland Airport, you pass under a wooden archway with ceremonial carvings and there’s a recording of a Maori woman singing a karanga, welcoming travelers to New Zealand. Little did I know that in a few weeks, I would be welcomed to a Marae, a place where Maori meet for ceremonial, social and sacred gatherings. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The Maori are the indigenous population of New Zealand. They arrived in canoes a thousand years ago, and discovered a country that was like a paradise: two islands that shared a pleasant climate, good hunting and plenty of natural resources. European colonists arrived in the 18th century. Since that time, there were periods of coexistence, trade, followed by battles, treaties and broken promises. Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the Maori were forced to not speak their language or practice their religious and other customs. They were deprived of any legal rights and their lands were confiscated. Over the past sixty years, this has gradually been changing. There are nearly 900,000 Maori in New Zealand, about 17% of the population. Maori youngsters are being taught their traditions again, and the Maori language appears on signage everywhere and in everyday speech. New Zealanders will greet you with kia ora instead of hello. It means “have life”. There’s a movement afoot to change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa, the Maori name for their country, which translates as “Land of the Long White Cloud.” I came to Aotearoa as a Fulbright Specialist, working with students and others to tell their stories with the help of sound recordings. Whenever possible, I met with the Maori, and this podcast is a way for me to look back at some of those encounters and share them with you. I hope it will in some small way, provide a glimpse of a remarkable people who I was privileged to spend time with. At the entrance of the Ti AuPouri Marae, there are calls and prayers. After which, guests are greeted by a long line of hosts. With men, It’s a touch of the forehead, with women, a kiss on both cheeks. Then the affairs of the day get underway. Today, it’s a talk to help locals secure land rights. Mariameno Kapakingi is CEO of the Ti AuPouri iwi on the North Island; iwi is the Maori word for tribe. Penetaui Kleskovic is a Far North District Counselor. He’s part of a new generation of Maori – well educated, politically savvy and socially responsible. He takes me to a hill overlooking a vast tract of fertile land. Across the road from the Te Aupouri Marae, I meet Toni Monroe, manager of a plant nursery. Tahu McKenzie is a guide and educator at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on the South Island. At a bird feeding station, we listen to the sounds of kakas, bellbirds and other species. Hoani Langsbury is the manager of operations at the Royal Albatross Center and a principal member of the Okatou Runaka Marae, on New Zealand’s South Island. Over a three week period, I worked with professor Anne-Marie Jackson and her Maori graduate students at the University of Otago in Dunedin. The students were writing their dissertations, navigating the challenges of melding Maori stories, customs and traditions to a Western academic format. In the process, we touched on many of the deeper issues that arise when attempting to share the heart of a traditional culture. I want to thank Hinemoa Elder who paved the way for many of the connections in the north island, also Nancy Longnecker, Gianna Savoie, Jesse Bering and Steve Ting at the University of Otago. My trip to NZ would not have been possible without their help. Thanks again to all those featured in the program: Penetaui Kleskovic, Mariameno Kapakingi, Toni Monroe, Tahu McKenzie, Hoani Langsbury, Anne-Marie Jackson and all her students. Finally, my thanks to The Fulbright Offices in both the US and NZ who helped me navigate the pathway to being a Fulbright Specialist. It’s a wonderful program, by the way. Check it out online. The music was from the CD book, “Singing Treasures” by Brian Flintoff, featuring musicians Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns. You can hear more of their music on the album Te Ku Te Whe (Fe) 1994, on Rattle Records, New Zealand. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.