FoMA Annual Hui Welcome – Aotea 27th September 2014

By Turama Hawira

“Celebrating Aotea Success.”

E te morehu tangata o te morehu whenua, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatau katoa.

Seven hundred years ago, when the fully laden double hulled waka named Aotea and it’s human cargo left the lagoon of Pikopikoi-whiti in Hawaiki Rangiatea, they did so with the absolute belief that beyond the horizon of the homeland lay a new future in the whenua tauhou of  Aotearoa discovered by Kupe.

Specific to Kupe’s recall to Turi, were the directions to a river on the West Coast, where there is a springwell close to the mouth and the fragrance of the soil attested to a richness unprecedented.

The prospect of a puna wai maori and whenua so sweet you can smell it, in a new land scarcely populated, coupled,  on the homeland front with increasing population, diminishing natural resources, and civil unrest, without doubt, lead to the ultimate decision to depart Raiaatea.

Some 2,500 miles later, having survived the epic maelstrom, Te Korokoro o Te Parata,a pit stop into Rangitahuahua, making room for the Kurahaupo whanaunga to jump on board, a quick squizzy at Great Barrier  (Aotea Island), a hop skip and a jump across the Tamaki isthmus out the Manukau and down to Kawhia, final landfall at Aotea Harbour .. then the last leg overland to what would become the capital or HQ Aotea – Patea D.C.

In full – Te Patea nui a Turi explained by some as the “great sigh of relief expressed by Turi”, having accomplished his great exodus.

To speak in celebration of the success of the Aotea membership is to reaffirm the genetic matrix inherent from our tupuna …our greatest entrepreneurs, statesmen and seers of yesterday. On behalf of the descendants of Turi and RongorongoTurangaimua, Taneroa, Tutawawhanaumoana and Tongapotiki.. I bid you all welcome.

A local proverb states: A mua, i muri o korero. The answers we seek for tomorrow lie in the ancestral precedents of the past. To this end I have resurrected an address by Whanganui’s most prominent leader of his time – Dr Rangitakuku Metekingi to set the tone of my korero.

Dr Rangitakuku Metekingi: A message from the past

Ngaa waka, ngaa mana, ngaa reo. Teenaa koutou, teenaa koutou.

The descendants of our canoes, the pillars of our society, the voices of authority - greetings, greetings.

Tena koutou i te aahuatanga ki o taatau tuupuna. Te hunga i kopengia o raatau whakaaro i ngaa waa ki muri; i uutaina mai i runga i ngaa waka; i uhia ki runga i nga marae maha o te motu hei tauira; hei kaupapa mo ngaa uri whakatupu.

Greetings to you and to the memory of our ancestors; A long time ago they made a deliberate decision to launch their canoes and to come here. Their thoughts were as one and in harmony. They spread across the land and inculcated their philosophy of preservation and conservation as a foundation for future generations.

Heoi, waihongia raatau kua whetuurangitia ki a raatau. Ko taatau teenei ngaa uri tuku iho. No reira teenaa koutou, teenaa koutou. He korero hoohonu teenei, he korero aataahua, he korero tuku iho.

They have departed to the distant stars. May they rest in peace. We, their descendants acknowledge each other – greetings, greetings. Here is a profound and beautiful saying from our people:

Ko te pae tawhiti

Whaia kia tata

Ko te pae tata

Whakamaua kia tina.

Seek out the distant horizons,

And cherish those you attain.

I te wa i o taatau tauheke, kaha tonu to raatau whai i ngaa kaupapa whaanui hei oranga mo te tinana me te ngaakau Maaori. Piri pono raatau ki ngaa aahuatanga i heke mai i ngaa tuupuna mai I Hawaiiki. U tonu raatau ki ngaa korero me ngaa ritenga i puta mai i ngaa waananga hei tauira mo ngaa uri. I te haerenga mai o tauiwi e noho mana ana te Maaori i runga i te motu. Ka miiharo te Paakehaa i te mea kaatahi anoo raatau ka kite i teenei tuu tangata. Te ihi, te mana,te wehi! Ka puta a raatau kupu mo te iwi: ‘Noble Savage!’

Our elders of yesteryear earnestly sought those things in life that benefited them physically and spiritually. They followed religiously the customs brought from Hawaiki. They were faithful to the teachings and rituals taught in the schools of learning and diligently passed the knowledge on to successive generations. When the strangers arrived the Maaori was master of his destiny. The Maaori was in total control of his land. The Paakehaa marvelled at such a man…inspiring! Powerful! Awesome! They expressed their admiration for these people in the words – ‘Noble Savage’

Kua pau te rau tau mai te uunga mai o te Paakehaa. I teenei raa kei te takiwaa e rere ana ngaa korero kino mo eetehi o taatau – a taatau tamariki, mokopuna. Kiihai i peenei o taatau maatua i te waa i a raatau. Ko ngaa taangata i tae ki ngaa teiteiranga o te motu Paakehaa – a Apirana Ngata, a Timi Kara, a Te Rangihiroa, a Maui Pomare – I tupu ake i roto i nga karangatanga o te motu, I whai i te matauranga o tauiwi hei oranga mo te iwi nui. Naa, kei te wawata te ngaakau kia uru anoo teenei aahuatanga ki roto i teenei whakatupuranga kia tuu tika taatau i roto ngaa hikoitanga o te waa.

A hundred years have passed since the arrival of the Paakehaa. Today there is much negativism widely expressed about some of us – our children and grandchildren. It was not like this in the time of our parents. Those men who attained the pinnacle of the Paakehaa world – Apirana Ngata, James Carroll, Peter Buck, Maui Pomare – grew up among their people. They pursued the knowledge of the Paakehaa in order to benefit the wider community. Now, it is my fervent hope that the present generation may be imbued with the same spirit, that we may stand proudly through the vicissitudes of time.

He ao apoopoo, he ao tea!

Rapua te huarahi whaanui

Hei ara whakapiri i nga iwi e rua,

I runga I te whakaaro kotahi.

The world tomorrow holds a brighter future.

Seek the broad highway

That will unite two peoples

Towards a common goal.

Being charged with the task of speaking about the success of the Aotea members, Te Rangitakuku’s address as member of the NZ Planning Council and  inaugural Chairman of Morikau and Ati Hau, provides a historical benchmark against which the achievements of Aotea/Kurahaupo can be attested.

In summary,he  emphasises;

Being Master of ones destiny/control of  lands/horizons attained/ horizons yet to be attained/ physical and spiritual well being / a philosophy of preservation and conservation/ and the attainment of academic  accumen. The strategy for change being one of collaboration.

The ultimate question for contemplation therefore is – how have we as Aotea members adhered to the  tenants and principles identified by Te Rangitakuku to pave the pathway of tomorrow?

The success of the Aotea membership is easily identified. It is inscribed on the Te Ahuwhenua Lord Bledisloe Cup, amidst the rest of the recognised elite of Maori Farmers from the motu, authenticating  81 years of Maori dedication to Maori Agribusiness.

To celebrate the Aotea success is to celebrate the vision of the forerunners of the Young Maori Party, who inspired successive leadership. Within this era, Whanganui statesman, Major Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, in his address to Sir Timi Kara, Minister of Native Affairs at Ranana Marae stated:

Maau e Timi, te morehu whenua, te morehu taangata.”

“To you e Timi, I bequeath the remnants of my land, and the remnants of my people.”

My own induction to the world of Maori Land Incorporations and Trusts was when I stood beside my father as he received the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Beef and Sheep Farming in 1976. Next to him was the Chairman of Ati Hau Incorporation, Te Rangitakuku Metekingi whose jubilation was only surpassed by the gleen of the sun shining on his bald head. He had taken one of his own and produced an exemplar – a successful farmer by day and a minita-a-iwi by night. His realisation being that once our lands, previously lost through the perpetual leasing regime, were resumed, then the people would return to their ancestral lands.

The Aotea story highlights the rise of Maori land entities from Paraninihi to Waitotara, and from Te Kahui Maunga to the puwaha of Whanganui River. It illustrates a renaissance from the brink of extinction to the stage of distinction.

The Aotea success is inextricably interwoven in the taura here taangata, that is FOMA, that has provided a united front and a collective rallying point to advance. Such is the proverb – Whiria nga kakaho, kia kore e whati. Bind together the kakaho reeds, and they are unbreakable.

It is important in understanding the nature of FOMA, to acknowledge that beneath it’s external fabric, lies a rich tapestry of relationship based upon whakapapa  that speaks of Maori Incorporations and Trusts who have reached or will be soon approaching centurion status (the Big 5). Imminent still are the strong associations forged amidst the leadership of inaugural members, permeating to their successors of today. The late Arikinui of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Sir Hepi Te Heueheu, Sir Henry and Lady Lorna Ngata of the Tairawhiti, and the nobility of tribal leaders spoken by Whanganui rangatira, Hoani Hipango, they, who inspired us to what we now call the Maori Economic Transition Agenda based upon the kaupapa foundations of kotahitanga, matauranga, tino rangatiratanga and whaihua.

Unforgettable and inspiring is the only way to describe the eulogies of nostalgia in past years, from such venerated noble gentlemen as Waka Vercoe and Tumanako Wereta , whose culinary wit and humour have even been known to  usurp the temptation of the Tohu wine, but never failing to challenge the paradigms of potential inherent in us all.

FOMA is the V8 of the double hulled waka fleet of the new millennium called Maori Agribusiness, that has navigated through the tempests of political uncertainty, climate change and volatile overseas markets. They have been consistent in expanding and growing to the needs of it’s 150 members. Collaborative partnerships and platforms continue to be forged with the various sectors of the Agribusiness industry .In former times the old adage spoken when asked – Who was at the FOMA conference?- was “every Maori Farmer and his dog.” The latest trend has now changed to “every Maori incorporation and their banker”. Indeed a sign of the times.

The Aotea success indeed, permeates from within its membership …Paraninihi ki Waitotara , the largest supplier to Fonterra in Taranaki – winners of the Ahuwhenua Cup 2006; Ati Hau  – past winners of the Ahuwhenua Cup; Morikaunui  – the koroheke; Ngaporo – Waimarino ; Pipiriki ; and the collective of smaller whenua trusts.

Whist it is bad protocol for the kumara to espouse it’s succulence, I would be hard pressed to exclude what maybe seen as the Aotea success story of 2014. In a time when uneconomic Maori land is under review, there rises a phoenix from the ashes. Amalgamating 4 separate Maori Trusts; producing a record 190,000kgs of milk solids from a 189 hectare farm running 420 cows and producing 8 graduates from their Land-based Training operation. I am of course speaking about the winners of the 2014 Ahuwhenua winners of the Dairy section ..Te Rua o te Moko. Congratulations to  Dion Maaka (Chairman), Doug Brooks, Phillip Luscombe, Hinerangi Raumati and the committee of management. Big ups also to Te Tumu Paeroa for their foresight and support.

To conclude, the success of Aotea is our collective success, epitomised in the Ahuwhenua Trophy is the spirit of self determination ingrained within each of the recipients whose names are on it. The 81 years of celebrating Maori Farming success is a conclusive statement that we all own. The cup inspires us all to aspire to the heights of economic providence, whilst keeping our feet firmly placed on our kaupapa values.

The analogy of having feet placed on the kaupapa leads me to my final acknowledgement. He mana whenua, he mana wahine. It is no mere coincidence that we have endured and persevered much adversity to be placed now in a position, that Kingi Smiler describes as ‘the Maori Agribusiness powerhouse of the New Zealand economy.” From the incorporation/trust board rooms to the apex of the FOMA committee, the leadership of Wahine  Maori is imminent and here to stay.

E nga raukura, e nga rauhuia na Hineteiwaiwa, tena koutou katoa.

In the closing of the curtain, I welcome you all to the 2014 FOMA Conference on behalf of the members of Aotea, in the spirit of Te Rangitakuku’s prophetic statement;

He ao apoopoo, he aotea.

Toitu te kupu, toitu te mana, toitu te whenua e!

E Tia ma,tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatau katoa.

Oh noble savages all, I bid you all adieu.