Regional | Mātauranga

A new wave of education revives ancient customs

Te Aitanga a Hauiti are reconnecting to the sea and reviving traditional Māori voyaging knowledge through an inter-island sailing vessel, Terehauiti.

Crew member Te Rauhuia Ngata Kutia (Te Aitanga a Hauiti) says it's about "knowing how to read the wind, knowing how to read the sun, the moon, Matariki and the stars in the cloak of the Sky Father, knowing when we sail and when to stay put”.

A bridge between waka ama and double-hulled vessels, the sailing vessel acts as a functional learning device- one that is transforming the community.

Dr Wayne Ngata (Te Aitanga a Hauiti) says, "This initiative is in the middle, where we see that we're able to grasp experiences between the larger and smaller vessels being sailed these days."

Ngata Kutia says, “From those actions come the narratives, the knowledge and the wisdom that are educational lifelines, those which have long been lost.”

Terehauiti was built in Tahiti in 2016 before being launched on the East Coast by the crew of the Mātangirua ocean voyagers this year.  It has two modes of operation- the steering paddle and the sail, and thus informs the name of the Mātangirua collective.

“When the roads were built on land, that school of learning at sea was lost and the narratives are left as oral histories and memories, as prayers and chants for us," says Ngata Kutia.

Ngata says, “Reading the stars and sailing these vessels, marrying the two things together we get a real sense about how our ancestors lived above and below.”

Māori are returning to the traditional schools of learning, says Ngata.

“For Māori, we're not just sailing, but we're sailing with the intention of reviving our Māori cultural customs, of reviving our language, of reviving Māori worldview, and the custodianship of Māori for Māori initiatives.”

The Mātangirua collective are now looking at securing their next waka.