The tūī’s song is most gracious and meaningful when appreciated in its natural environment. It’s not just a contrived composition for the white noise of daily activity. When you take time to listen, really listen to the tūī’s song, its exquisitely complex, uplifting and distinctive.
That’s how I can best summarise the kōrero and speaker’s presentations at this month’s Kāhui Kaitiaki hui: Tītiro Whakamua, at Kohupātiki Marae in Clive, Hawkes Bay – a chorus of tūī.
Kohupātiki Marae offered a familiar setting, and yet was a little at odds with how our respective institutes and organisations usually operate. Being home in the heartland of Ngāti Kahungunu was for me a personal highlight, and perhaps gave this tūī a special pitch, with tikanga Māori as the bass note. The manaakitanga extended to us by the hapu was impeccable, and enabled the rich conversations. The food that was prepared has set the benchmark very high; karengo and tī kōuka were a real treat. The Kāhui Kaitiaki organisation committee, Tryphena Cracknell and Bridget Reweti, should again be applauded, with recognition also for the support of Te Puni Kōkiri, Museums Aotearoa and National Services Te Paerangi.
As a collective, we are passionate about our mahi, and thoughtful about the issues that surface in our individual roles. The refreshing point of difference in this environment was that we didn’t need to articulate historical issues for the unfamiliar. The marae was the natural environment and enabled us to avoid being distracted by the misinformed. The conversations were elevated from the pōwhiri to the poroporoaki. There were no excuses or explanations made for being Māori, speaking Māori, tikanga was not challenged and this enabled the kōrero to reach a very natural and exhilarating crescendo. The challenges that Māori sometimes face working in the museum sector were a given. The song sheet was the same, no tuning required.
All of the presentations offered inspiration, highlighted the inter-connection of issues our sector faces and were solution-focused. It was evident we’ve reached a maturity in 2013, that has exciting implications, but that requires patience and conversation from all parties. We are all mindful of our tupuna who charted many of our pathways. We, as Kaitiaki Māori, are at the coal-face of a new way of thinking about how we present ourselves as Māori in this landscape. This is exciting.
If I could single out one presentation that has tuned this songbird, it was the presentation given by Leo Watson on ‘The key principles established by the WAI 262 claim concerning the preservation, protection and promotion of matauranga Māori, in all of its manifestations’. Leo’s presentation, along with working definitions and ‘Kaitiakianga framework for discussion’ document, were generous and practical guides for traversing this profound and important claim that currently sits with The Crown.
Returning to Tāmaki and its urban soundscapes, I am mindful of my pitch and aware of the great potential for harmonies with the many manu. All the time I am mindful of how sweet the sound of tūī is in their natural environment.
Auckland War Memorial Museum