Connecting to Kai Tahu Roots

By Julia Taylor / September 16, 2010

LSD - kai tahuFrom Kapiti News in New Zealand comes a story about the creating of a meeting for those with Kai Tahu ancestry to explore those roots – the event is James Muirhead’s project in Landmark Education’s Self-expression and leadership programme. Kai Tahu is the principal Maori people of southern New Zealand.

Kai Tahu hui

By Dani McDonald

Wellington will be hosting a substantial hui (meeting) for a predominant South Island tribe this weekend. The hui, Our Pounamu Pathway, will be held at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington on September 4.

Organiser James Muirhead says it is a chance for the 3,000 Kai Tahu descendants currently living in the greater Wellington region to learn about their culture and to connect with other descendants of the iwi (tribe).

With the support and guidance of community leader Angela Wallace, Mr. Muirhead’s project has become bigger than expected.

“It’s a hui, a real whanau environment with stories and songs of the past and of ancestors, spoken by a number of speakers coming along.

“It will be looking at what it is to be Kai Tahu today and how we can all be a contribution for the greater good of the iwi” he says.

Iaean Cranwell, leader of Aoraki Bound in Christchurch, is also expected to attend.

But for Mr. Muirhead, an exploration geologist, getting to know his culture hasn’t always been easy.

“I sort of came to realize that I haven’t recognized my Mari heritage.

“I was brought up Pakeha, and never really got myself involved,” he says.

As part of a 3-5 month programme run by Landmark Education, in which participants undertake projects with a community-based focus, Mr. Muirhead created the hui for himself and others to experience the culture of the south.

“I’m really excited about it when I share about it. I’ve got the opportunity in an environment that’s new to me.”

He says he is inspired to be involved in a Kai Tahu community in Wellington and to open up the opportunities of learning about Kai Tahu protocol to other whanau members.

“There is an expanded community that could be involved in this. For myself I really want to get an enhanced feeling of my Kai Tahu taka (essence).”

Mr. Muirhead hopes this becomes a yearly event to occur on the first day of spring.

“I’m hoping to really strengthen the Kai Tahu community – to expand it and to help people know what’s available through the runaka (tribal council) and what’s available through the community.”

The hui will run from 12pm to 6pm.

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Julia Taylor

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