Mere Kepa – Mingling the hau [breath of life] in Aotearoa, New Zealand

Mingling the hau [breath of life] in Aotearoa, New Zealand (PDF)

The narration is a critical reflection upon three environmental projects undertaken voluntarily by three separate; sometimes overlapping groups of Tangata Whenua [Indigenous Maori] and Pakeha [European New Zealand] people. Their purpose is to transform the degradation and destruction of the Native or Indigenous flora and fauna in a part of the Te Tai Tokerau [Northland] region of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The projects are being enacted on the public roadside by the Friends of the Berm@Takahiwai (Friends); the Pest Strategy 2018-23 in the Takahiwai Hills and Forest; and by the Bream Bay Coastal Care Trust (BBCCT) in the Wildlife Refuge and on the coastal dunes at nearby Ruakaka beach. Notably, the terminologies Tangata Whenua, and Maori; Native and Indigenous are used interchangeably here. In the 21st century, the groups of Maori and Pakeha are mingling the hau [breath of life] to serve in revitalising the breath of life through eliminating exotic pest flora and fauna; connecting hunters to equipment to clean their boots on entering and departing from the forest; and keeping-out people who drive their recreational vehicles in the Refuge and the dunes. The idea of importance is that through the conception of the ‘hau,’ the understanding of transforming the contaminated landscapes to places of abundant Native beauty, food cultivation, and recreation is deepened visually and peacefully. Ultimately, the Tangata Whenua continue to be at the forefront of revitalising the landscapes from out-of-control policies and activity by the government and their agencies.

Key words: Matauranga Maori, hau, colonisation, transformation