Kei taku kura tuatahi, ka whakaakona e rātou te whakakīngia i tō mātou pepeha. He pepa e A4 te rahi, he wāhi tuhituhi e wātea ana mō ō ake whakautu. I a au e wānangahia te whakatakoto o tōku pepeha, he rite taku reo hamumu i taku tamarikitanga, e 10 tau taku pakeke. Tōku maunga, tōku awa, tōku marae, tōku hapū, tōku iwi me tōku waka. Ki te mōhio koe i tō pepeha, e mōhio ana hoki nō hea koe ā-whenua nei: koinei tō mātou awa e kaukau nei mātou hei te Raumati, koinei tōku maunga e whakamaru i a mātou i te Takurua, koinei tōku marae, te papa kāinga o ōku tupuna. Ko tōku pepeha ko au, ko au tōku pepeha.
In my primary school they taught us how to fill in our pepeha. It was a piece of A4 paper, with blank spaces for you to fill in your details. When I’m figuring out the order of my pepeha, I still mutter it the same way I did when I was ten. Maunga, Awa, Marae, Hapū, Iwi, Waka. To know your pepeha is to know who you are in relation to your location: this is our river that we swim in in the summer, this is my maunga beneath which we shelter in the winter, this is the marae that my family have lived on for a very long time. Knowing my pepeha is second nature.
I tērā tau ka puta mai te māramatanga ki a au i roto i ētahi wānanga, kotahi tau te roanga o te whakapakari tangata me ētahi rangatahi Māori mai i ngā pito o te motu. I a au e wānanga ana me tēnei rōpu, ka puta mai te whakatau ki te takahi i tētahi ara me te whāinga kia riro i a au taku tā moko tuatahi. Ko tēnei ara tā moko mōku he reo karanga o tōku whakapapa, he pito arataki i a au i roto i tōku pepeha. He rangatahi tonu au, kāore i te tino kaha te kōrero Māori, he tawhiti hoki mai i tōku kāinga i a au e rangahau ana. Ahakoa he tairo tonu ēnei, e mōhio pūmau ana he ara tika tēnei mōku.
Last year I went through a process of self-discovery in wānanga, a year long period of development with a group of young Māori from all over the country. It was during my time with this rōpu that I made the decision to start a journey that would hopefully lead towards getting my first piece of tā moko done. Starting a moko journey for me was a call for the strength of my whakapapa, and a compass to lead me towards those points I call upon in my pepeha. I’m still young, not yet fluent in Te Reo Māori, and stuck far away from home while I study. While these factors still make me hesitate, ultimately, I decided this was right for me.
Ka waea atu au ki tōku Pāpā me taku īnoi.
So I called up my Pāpā to ask for his blessing, and for advice.
“Kia ora e kō”, ka whakautu a ia tōna waea.
“Kia ora my girl”, he answers his phone.
“Pāpā.” Ka rongo au i a ia e inu tī ana. “Pīrangi ana au te mau moko.”
“Pāpā.” I can hear him sipping tea on the other end. “I want to get some moko done.”
Ka pātai mai ia kei tēhea wāhi o tōku tinana, ko tāku, “Kei aku kikopuku, ringa rānei.”
He asks me where I want to get it, I say, “On my arms maybe.”
Ka kī au ki a ia kua rite au te kimi whakaaro, engari he paku āwhina te hiahia, “He aha rā te āhua o taku moko?”
I tell him I feel ready to start searching, but I need some help, “What should I get done?”
I āta whakaaro a Pāpā mō te wā poto, me tōna whakautu.
Pāpā thinks for a bit and then replies.
“Ko tō whakapapa te kaupapa. He kāwai tupuna anō hoki. Tērā pea ko te tipuna nei a Hinepūkohurangi tētahi whakaaro, he hononga ki tō taha Tūhoe.”
“It’s about your whakapapa. It holds all of those around you. Maybe you could get your tipuna Hinepūkohurangi in it, to represent all of your Tūhoe line.”
Ko taku waea atu ki tōku Pāpā he tuatahitanga i tēnei ara, he tīmatanga. Ko te pātai matua e pā ana ki te whakapapa. Nō te kīanga o Hinepūkohurangi e tōku pāpā, koinei te wā tuatahi e wānangahia ana mō te tipuna nei kua tā ki taku kiri. Ko Hinepūkohurangi tō mātou tipuna, ko ia te atua o te kohu. Ka whārikitia e ia i a Papatūānuku me ōna makawe mā, roroa anō hoki.
The phone call to Pāpā was the first step in this journey I had decided to take. Probably the most important question is about Whakapapa. When my dad brought up Hinepūkohurangi, I contemplated for the first time what it would mean to have her represented on my skin. Hinepūkohurangi is our tipuna and she is the atua of the mist. She blankets Papatūānuku with her long white hair.
E ai ki ā mātou pūrākau, ka puta mai a Ngāi Tūhoe i te piringa a Hinepūkohurangi me Te Maunga – ko ia ko ngā puke me ngā maunga tiketike. E tika ana tēnei kaupapa mā mātou, ka whānau mai te iwi i ngā puke kua kākahutia e te kohu o Te Urewera. Ko mātou “Ngā Tamariki o te Kohu”. He mātau aku whānau ki ngā ara hīkoi ki tērā takiwā me te mahinga kai mai i te whenua.
Our pūrakau say that Ngāi Tūhoe came from the union of Hinepūkohurangi and Te Maunga – who was the high hills and mountains. This makes logical sense for us, an iwi born in the tall mist-shrouded hills of Te Urewera. We are “Ngā Tamariki o te Kohu” – the Children of the Mist. My whānau are very good at navigating its many tracks, and knowledgeable on all the kai our whenua has to offer.
Kua kohia hoki au i ngā whakapapa o Mataatua waka, nāna aku tipuna i kawea ki Te Moana a Toi. Tokotoru ngā tamariki a Wekanui me Irakewa, arā, ko Puhi, ko Muriwai me Toroa. Ka moe a Toroa me Kake-Pikitia, ka puta mai tā rāua tamāhine a Wairaka. Ko te tamaiti a Wairaka ko Tamatea Ki Te Huatahi, ā, i moe a ia ki a Paewhiti, te tamāhine a Taneatua. Tokotoru ā rāua tama, kotahi te tamāhine. Ko te pōtiki, ko Tūhoe-Pōtiki, nā ka puta mai ko Ngāi Tūhoe te ingoa o te iwi. Ko te whakamārama o tēnei ko “ngā uri a Tūhoe”.
I have also traced the whakapapa of Mataatua waka, which brought my ancestors to Te Moana a Toi which follows. Wekanui and Irakewa had three children, Puhi, Muriwai, and Toroa. Toroa and Kake-Pikitia had a daughter who was Wairaka. Wairaka’s son was Tamatea Ki Te Huatahi, and with Paewhiti (who was the daughter of the famed Taneatua), Tamatea Ki Te Huatahi had three sons and a daughter. The youngest of the lot was Tūhoe-Pōtiki, the baby of the family, and it is from him that the name Ngāi Tūhoe comes. Quite literally this translates as “the descendants of Tūhoe”. Together these accounts tell the story of our iwi origins.
Inā kīi mai taku whakapapa, he uri ahau o Hinepūkohurangi, te wahine o te kohu, ko te kūare kei roto i ahau e kīia nei he kōrero paki noa. Kāore i te whakaaetia e tērā o ngā rangahau i ahu mai mātou i te Moana nui a Kiwa, mai i Āhia me Āwherika.
When my whakapapa says that I am descended from Hinepūkohurangi the wahine of the mist, the colonised person inside of me says that this is only a story. That it does not fit the generally accepted story of my existence that tells me I came across the Pacific from Asia, and further back, from Africa.
Kua rongo au i a rātou e mātau ana ki ā rātou whakapapa ki ngā tipuna motuhake, tekau reanga ki muri. E mārama ana rātou ki ngā mahi whakaakoranga o ō rātou tīpuna me pēhea hoki rātou tae ki taua māramatanga. Kua rongo hoki au i ētahi e taki whakapapa ana o ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa me ngā tātai, hononga katoa ki a Māui, Kupe me ngā atua, tērā whakapapa e kīia nei he Māori.
I have heard people who can sling off, very casually, their whakapapa to famous tipuna of their iwi going back ten generations. They know the conscious inter-generational efforts that led to them being where they are. I have also heard people recite the whakapapa of all iwi in Aotearoa, explaining when and where we were all connected, weaving in the whakapapa of Maui, Kupe, and our atua into a narrative that affirms what it is to be Māori.
Ko tēnei te take ka tīmata au i tēnei ara o te whakapapa. Kaua mō taku taha Māori anake, engari mō taku taha Pākehā anō hoki. Ka taea e tōku kuia te maumahara e 15 ngā reanga ki muri o ngā hononga ki Tenemāka, Kōtarana me Ingarangi. He kaha nōna te awhi mai i a au te kohi i ngā mauhanga whānautanga, matenga hoki o ētahi o aku whānau. He nui tonu ngā mea kāore i te mōhio, he nui hoki ngā pātai kāore anō kia whakautu. Koirā te mate o te tāmitanga, whakapāwera hītori, te pūnaha whāngai tamariki me te pāmamae ki runga i ngā whānau.
This is why I decided to start a whakapapa journey. Not just for my Māori side, but my Pākehā side too. My grandmother can rattle off 15 generations of our links back to Denmark, Scotland, and England. She has helped me as well, to find birth and death records for some of my whanau. My hapū still has blanks and many questions, such is the result of colonisation, historical hardship, the foster system, and family trauma. Sometimes finding these things can be a process of finding old family pain. However, it makes it a little less difficult to know who you are when you can figure out, at least somehow, how you came to be.
Ko tātou ngā whakatipuranga o ō mātou wāhi. Ki taku nei tirohanga ka taea te kite me pēhea tōku whakaputanga mai ki te ao nei. Tāiritia ana Hinepūkohurangi i Te Urewera i te ata, whārikitia ana te riu katoa e te kohu mātotoru. E mākū ana te otaota, e puke ana te awa, ka whārikitia ana i te maunga, arā, ko tana whaiāipo. He tohu a ia mō te mea ngaro - mō tētahi ūpoko māro e tae ate ako me pēhea te piri ki te ara inā tē taea te kite te 30 henemita ki mua. Ko tōna taenga mai (a Hinepūkohurangi) he tohu mō te putanga ki waho o te whare ki tōna kohu mātotoru, noho pū ki roto rānei hei kōrero, hei wānanga rānei i te whakaaro. He akoranga ēnei mōku mai i a Hinepūkohurangi, mā te whenua hoki tātou e ako pēnei i tō tātou whānau.
We are all a product of our environments. Looking around me can answer some of my own questions about how I came to be. When Hinepūkohurangi rises in Te Urewera in the morning, the whole valley is blanketed in a dense mist. The grass is wet, the river swells, and she blankets the maunga – her lover. Hinepūkohurangi for me is a fresh start when she rises on a cold morning. She represents the unknown – it requires a risk taker who can learn how to stay on track when you can’t see 30 cm in front of you. Her arrival means either leaving the house to venture into her dense mists, or staying inside, a time to kōrero and to nurture philosophical thought. These are the lessons and qualities I learn from Hinepūkohurangi, the whenua teaches us lessons just as our whānau do.
He kōrero tawhito mai i a Elsdon Best mō tōna mīharo ki ō tātou whakapapa, arā, he uri whakaheke ā-toto nei mātou mai i a Hinepūkohurangi. He rite tahi ko ngā tohunga tikanga tangata, ngā kaipūtaiao rānei e kīia nei he paki noa ēnei kōrero. Ahakoa tērā, ko Hinepūkohurangi tō mātou whāea, nāna ngā tikanga me ngā whanonga o Ngāi Tūhoe i waihanga.
Elsdon Best wrote once of how astounding he found our expressions of whakapapa, that there were people who believed that they were descended from her in blood. Like many anthropologists and Western scientists, he dismisses them as myth only. His work is widely referenced by Māori and Pākehā alike. Nevertheless, Hinepūkohurangi is our parent, someone who has shaped the values and tikanga of Ngāi Tūhoe.
Kātahi anō ka riro i a au taku tā moko tuatahi, ka tīmata mai i tētahi wāhanga ātaahua ki te kawititanga o taku ringa matau. He mihi ki a Pāpā i mate atu nō muri mai i tōku haerenga i tōku ara. He nui ngā akoranga whakapapa i runga i tēnei ara, engari ki te ako tonu au, he māramatanga nōku he nui kē atu te mātauranga kei waenganui i a tātou. Māku au e whakatōkia ki roto i taua whakapapa, he āta haere, he āta mahi pēnei i te mahi raranga, ka whakakotahi te kōrero o taku tuakiritanga.
I got my first piece of tā moko recently, starting with a beautiful piece on my right wrist. It’s to acknowledge Pāpā, who passed away not long after I began my journey. I’ve learned a lot about whakapapa since I started on this ara, but the more I learn, the more I realise there is more knowledge within our people. I will begin by placing myself within that whakapapa, and slowly and methodically, like mahi raranga, I will piece together the narrative of who I am.
– Kahu Kutia
This article originally appeared on The Wireless