Regional | Te Matatini

Te Matatini Mauri arrives at the Whanganui River

The Te Mauri o Te Matatini was taken from Rātana Pā to Kāwhaiki on the Whanganui River on Sunday and was received with much delight by the people of the river.

This is the second leg of its journey. It will eventually be taken to the people of Taranaki before the next Te Matatini o Te Kāhui Maunga, to be hosted in Taranaki in 2025.

Ngā Paerangi descendent Kahurangi Simon says the occasion will be one his people will never forget.

“That we got to unite as whānau, together, you know, of our different whakapono, of our different māramatanga. And so, we’re really relieved today but it was such a beautiful occasion yesterday to have you come to the river, and in fact to have the tūmuaki come for the first time as tūmuaki. So, it was a very special event for us, and something that we will certainly treasure forever.”

The Te Matatini Mauri was brought to Rātana Pā by the Te Matatini committee and the host of Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tāngata 2023, Ngāti Whātua ki Orakei back in March this year. For six months it has been cared for by the Rātana community and the local kapahaka, Te Reanga Mōrehu o Rātana.

Simon also says, “The reo (Rātana bands) have always been a favourite of ours, seeing them march out the pā at Rātana, but to have them up the pā at Kāwhiaiki was something really special for us all. And even talking with my other cousins who have, like myself, one foot in the awa, the other foot in the temepara, that we were reflecting on those of our parents and grandparents from the river who tie into Rātana as well. We were wishing that they were here physically with us to experience the hononga, the kiritahitanga of our peoples.”

Whanganui iwi are excited to have the opportunity to care for the mauri and are honoured to have received such a responsibility.

Whanganui uri Shea Rogan says, “I don’t think there’s any words in Pākehā or Māori that can encapsulate kotahitanga at its finest, you know. It is unity that brings our elders and young people together, and also the gathering of our Māori prophets. There’s so much more to these hui than meet the eye, especially when we look at things through our Māori world view. And I think it was just so timely after everything that happened with the elections and everything. It’s exactly what we needed in that exact moment that’s going to help us pave the way through because we’re magic.

Plans are being made to share the responsibility throughout the whole of the river.

“This mauri has provided wānanga in the direction that we wouldn’t usually go, because we’re so used to being home and we would always wānanga home, you know, we’re always trying to make sure the next generation know who we are, where we are, where we come from. And this mauri has allowed us to do that again on another level, in another space.

“It’s important for us to be able to get the mauri right throughout the river, and we’re just working out some of those occasions, special occasions, where we can have the mauri go to certain spots through the awa. And we’re just finalising some of those whānau points with others of our cousins, but also to get the mauri into our kura,” Simon said.

The late Morvin Te Anatipa Simon, a renowned composer, tutor, and performer, was influential in raising the standard of kapahaka within the Te Kāhui Maunga region and his influence is still strong and evident among groups within the region today.

Simon reflects back on his late father, “Dad instilled a lot of great taonga inside of us to continue, kia kore ae mate pērā i te Moa, pērā i te Huia, kia ora ake ae, mō ake ake. And to have that continue through to our babies, that we’ve been really fortunate to have some great leadership show us the ways, and now it’s our time to continue to feed the next generation.”

The Te Matatini Mauri will be taken to Ngāti Ruanui in south Taranaki in March 2024 at about the same time of the next Te Kāhui Maunga regional kapahaka competition.