Kia ora tatou!
So just got back from dinner in Dunedin with a fellow researcher and recommendations provided by my host for restaurants to grind at were Italian or Japanese. I'm from Hawaii (which is heavily influenced, and visited, by Asian economics) so Japanese it was! I had my regular picks in my head already (mixed prawn and vegetable tempura, miso, with rice) and so did my partner (salmon sashimi and gyoza). We decided and ordered our meal in less than five minutes, then he said "Food should always be easy!". I nodded hesitantly. In my head thoughts were "well, what about the food we gather?". Of course my mind went there. Then he invitedly interjected my thoughts with "well that's not if we aren't digging it out of the ground or fishing it out of the ocean, processing, storing, curing..." and a great smile went over me cause that is exactly what I was thinking! Regardless of being in the most packed Japanese restaurant ever (outside of Sushi King during midnite special in Honolulu, yes look it up if you plan on visiting Oahu in Hawaii) all of our food had come from the land whether in a commercialized production line or not. Where else does our food come from, outer space? So, anyways, I was thankful for great food, beverage and mostly great company.
Relating to my experiences in the past two weeks the fruits (and vegetables) of the land and sea are deep, especially if you know what you're looking for and are open to what the environment wants to share. I had the great privilege of making connections at a marae in Karitane on the South Island. This is one (if not the only) hui who has rights to trade pounamu from their river. The great excitement in visiting this area was with my hostesses the Jackson whanau, who are phenomenal kaitiaki and warriors for te ao Maori, as you will shortly see.
The previous day to our marae visit one of my hostesses was guest lecturing a food science undergraduate ( year 1) class with an introductory, basic background, of Maori whakapapa to food (AWESOME!). In a nutshell, similar to Hawaiians, Maori are descendants of the land, literally. Maori and Hawaiians, as well as many other indigenous communities, have "creation stories" (yes those are quotations to emphasize these "stories" should be described more as genealogical charts) where earth mother (Papatuanuku / Papahanaumoku) and sky father (Rangi nui / Wakea) procreate. In te ao Maori this action created all the elements and realms known in our environment today (Tane, Tangaroa, Rongo, Tumatauenga, Haumiatiketike, Ruaimoko, Tawhirimatea) under the cover of darkness. In short Rangi nui and Papatuanuku's offspring were tired of living in the dark so Tane split the parents apart so light could shine into the world. Tumatauenga was upset at this action. Because none of the other siblings did anything to prevent the separation a whakanoa occurred where creatures of the land, sea, cultivated and uncultivated became available for food. During this time Tane became lonely so created Hineahuone from sand/earth and breathed life, or ha, into her (thus the pressing of the noses, or hongi).
[reference provided by S. Jackson; Adapted from "God, man and universe. A Maori view" by M Marsden, 2003.]
Major Maori values, as shared by Sam Jackson who hosted the lecture, include whakapapa, tapu, noa, mana and manaakitanga. Before any event or trip into the forest or ocean for gathering as kaitiakitanga of natural resources Maori provide a karakia, a mechanism to ask for permission to take food (physical/spiritual) from any of these realms. In all marae there is a clear separation of what is tapu and noa. There is a clear example of no food in the wharenui, a tapu area where ancestors dwell, and the wharekai, a noa area where food is prepared and consumed. The key here is to keep the sacred, sacred and the profane separate. Another example is the local custom of never placing hats (which rest on a tapu area, your head) on to a table (a noa area used to eat). The placing of a hat on the table has the potential effect to whakanoa what is tapu. Food is used to whakanoa areas, events, anything. This is one reason why there is always so much food around Maori and other Polynesian communities after large celebrations, gatherings, etc.
To protect resources rahui are placed in areas which have been affected by tapu, such as death or natural crises. Rahui prohibits food gathering in areas and are marked by pou, usually two on either side. Rahui can also be used to monitor take, such as to restrict access in areas for stock replenishment. Rahui are important because they protect the mana of the food. Intrinsic to the food itself is who and how the food is prepared, these actions adds to the mana of the food but also to the host and servers of the dishes. How food is presented to manuhiri or anyone is a "symbol of prestige of the land and the people".
Why did I just review my class notes with this post, because it's sets up our visit to the marae, and the slideshow above :)
As we entered the pa visitors were preparing to be welcomed on to the marae. As a visitor I entered with them along with my host, S.J. After the official mihi and hongi there was a break for tea in the wharekai, complete with pies, cakes and fruits. Following we took a short walk back outside of the marae fences to listen and view more genealogy displayed in clay, carvings, pou, in the mountains and the ocean by our hosts. A kaumatua took me aside and shared further genealogy of her people as she was brought up with it pre-war times. She then took us up to the urupa to view the whakapapa of her people on the headstone (about 3-4 meters tall) of one of her ancestors.
After all these adventures our Jackson whanau was keen to go for a wakaama or stand up paddling session. From the urupa we could see surfers bobbing about the curling waves. In prep to head out we met up with our host at the local school, where the outrigger and other ocean crafts were based. The tide was out, it was a super low tide, so we decided to go for a walk to check things out. Prior to walking out some paua shells were given to the family so traditional rattles with shells could be made and used during Maori focused youth camps they host. We placed some gravel rocks between the paua to have a play, it sounded good. We hoped to find more shells to place inside to create more natural, or "traditional", tones. On our arrival to the boat ramp the entire estuary bed was exposed, out went paddling anything. The water was waaaay outside exposing the clams and mussels. With the permission of the kaitiaki and instructions we began our search for shellfish. Anne-marie, S.J.'s older sister, completed her PhD in this area, with the community in fisheries management, and so was well aware of the shellfish limits. She was even part of an effort to decrease the daily quota possible for gathering shellfish in order to preserve stocks. So, with no bag, we collected coccles and pipi.
The next item for collection was rimu, to be used for the creation of games. On the side of the estuary a large piece had washed up on the rocks so we grabbed it and brought it over to the next beach. Our host, who knew the traditional parts used, first suggested making the blade of the seaweed into a bag (see video) for cooking the clams and mussels. After the bag was completed he moved on to fashioning a ball (pic on right) out of the stem of the seaweed with a knife. It was SO NEAT!!! We soon each made our own ball out of other found seaweed material on the beach (ranging 5-10cm in diameter). Since the adventure started at the estuary it had been a good three hours, so we decided to turn in and release our host so he could host the real visitors at the marae :) On the way back to the car, with a plastic bag in tow, we collected a few more shellfish to share with family and friends as well as to cook the next day for evening tea and well below quota.
We stopped for tea, where I was able to share more about my purpose and goals for this visit to Aotearoa, then went to go visit pou which marked rahui for a paua seeding operation both Sam and Anne-marie were engaged in throughout the South Island coastline. At both beaches we gathered shells to put into the paua for the creation of the rattles. This was our last stop aside from the scenic ride back home where the family shared some breath taking views of Dunedin (the weather was perfect).
On this day Tangaroa provided everything we needed, not wanted (food, knowledge, quality time with whanau). The tide was low exposing sea creatures and vegetables which allowed us to play with and be part of the seascape. This day will benefit not just us but others who will be engaging in this blog and their youth camps. We were also able to build relationships with each other and the marae hosts, them solidification and affirmation and me having a great introduction with the community.
The gifts of our lands are deep...hohonu
Even with population increase, encroachment from outsiders and alienation by our own The gifts of our lands are deep...hohonu. It is important to have gratitude for host culture protocols (which I hope was demonstrated in the story following lecture notes) and host culture environment. "The environment is a present and constant reminder of genealogical connections, of tapu (sacred) and noa (profane)"- S.J.. There are, of course, barriers to integrating or perpetuating gathering from the environment. Obviously there is the contamination of ecosystems through runoffs, removal of forests, human "waste", eutrophication of waterways, diversion of waterways, and the list goes on. Other less prevalent barriers are the fragmentation of local community (and there for knowledge, or interest there of), the restriction of once dynamic hui that followed the seasons to a single area and government seizure of traditional food and community gathering areas.
All challenges aside aroha / aloha is the greatest tool we have in re-establishing these fragmented areas of knowledge, community, landscape and in effect health systems to support our Nations. All challenges as side The gifts of our lands are deep especially when we remember who we are and where we come from, our whakapapa, mookuauhau, our genealogy.
Sam repeatedly thanked Tangaroa for the gifts we had received through out the day. And the greatest gesture of Aroha I experienced was through Sam, a vegetarian, who gathered, cleaned, processed and prepared the shellfish with her elder sister so that everyone else, kaumatua, whanau and manuhiri, could enjoy the gifts of Tangaroa. Ka pai Sam!
is related to my N8v doctoral lifestyle journey