A bit about the day:
We were greeted and called on to the centre foyer by Waimarie, adhering to the kawa o Te Ihu o Mataoho (Ihumatao protocol). Where Farrel, Qiane and Waimarie (of the Mangere Mountain Education centre) had arranged a display of ancient taonga from the mountain for us to interact with. We were formally acknowledged with a mihimihi and I responded by establishing the purpose of our visit, explaining who we were and what we hoped to achieve of the experience.
Qiane Matata-Sipu, Artist/Photographer and also of the papa kainga (Local) shared with us the history of how Ihumatao got its name formally known as Te Ihu o Mataoho. Sharing the stories of specific tupuna that shaped the landscape of Mangere and how we see it now. This linked into the importance of Ihumatao' unique setting within Auckland City as the last remaining Maori Pa, now the last urban pa left in Auckland.
From sharing the past histories moving forward into the present stories, Qiane discussed some of the important local issues as the Mana whenua of Mangere, and what is currently happening with the land and waterways and how it affects the local people living there now. There was a lot of murmuring coming from our group, I take it that there was the realisation that none of us knew the environmental injustices taking place on the awa within the pa being polluted by the surrounding developments in the area.
After learning much more korero from the Manawhenua perspective of Mangere, Waimarie and Farrel shared some of the histories of the Mountain and the occupants from the past 500 years. They discussed the cultivation, the community lifestyle of living on the Maunga and allowed us to interact and touch a few of the taonga and/or replicas kept to shed light on what Maori from Mangere used pre and during colonialism.
We were taken outside to look at the medicinal and kai gardens to see what Maori used to harvest and what we can still harvest now. Discussing some of the important plants that Maori used to survive, to heal and to sustain themselves.
Farrel and Waimarie, ended our tour with a special tour into the cottage of the Maori King Tawhiao, sharing with us the connection and importance of the Kingitanga to Mangere, to the people of the Waiohua, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngaati Whatua and the connection we have to the Kingitanga in the present day.
The second part of our tour led us to Ihumatao Pa and Otuataua (Stonefields) where Qiane jumped in the bus and guided the group and Emory through the local pa, showing them the function of their pa, their Marae (Makaurau Marae) and pointing out some of the points mentioned in her talk. This included the devastation of the Puketutu Island sewage ponds and how it directly affects Ihumatao Pa.
A highlight of this tour that Qiane mentioned was the Social Housing Corp (SHC) battle that the people of Ihumatao and the wider community have been battling and still working on at present. Qiane showed Emory and the group exactly where the SHC plan to build 500 houses in their small area and elaborated on the effects of having 500 more cars that would add to the pollution, 500 families which means 500 more rubbish bins of waste a week.
This was a sad but necessary lesson for the group to learn about Mangere and some of the things we don't see on a daily basis. We all learnt a lot about the Maori perspective at this point.
Later in the day we shared lunch with the Hoki Ki Te Rito parenting group facilitated by Ohomairangi and Lyn Doherty at the Mangere East Community Centre every monday. The team put on a big lunch for all of us, to eat and korero together. The parenting group was made up of both mothers and fathers with their children, all came from different walks of life from around the Mangere area. Lyn and her team of volunteers put on a lunch fit for Kings and Queens. This was a great space for our group to get to meet different people from around Mangere. Tigilau Ness, one of the Ohomairangi facilitators and a long-time friend of Emory's, greeted and acknowledged Emory and the young people in our group.
Afterwards, we ended the day in the Mangere East Library where we had talanoa (discussions) and whakawhanaungatanga with our group about what we had learned throughout the day. We discussed what stood out the most and what it means to us and the local community. We were joined by Gina Oge of the Otahuhu-Mangere Youth Group and STRIVE youth worker team for this workshop.
After a debrief and reflection session, we got into a design workshop where I opened up the floor to anyone interested in being a part of a mural project that would develop on from the Mangere tour.
Visual arts and mural arts is a way to produce creative social outcomes. While the experience was fresh in peoples minds, we got into mixed groups and brainstormed some visual ideas that encapsulated the day and what we learned. Emory was a huge help in guiding us, explaining ways that we could simplify our ideas down to one or two strong key messages. I can't thank him enough for sharing his presence, wisdom and creativity with us.
Finally, we ended in lots of hugs, lots of thank you's and a photo op with our group together.
By Amiria Puia-Taylor
Painting for the People