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Ngāti Rangi Marae – Research Journal / Pukapuka Rātaka Rangahau
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Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design
Te Whare Takiura o Wikiriwhi
Ngāti Rangi Marae
Research Journal
Pukapuka Rātaka Rangahau
Wayne Shih
3717 Art and Sustainability
Lynnemaree Patterson
Feb/Mar 2017
Whiteclie College of Arts & Design
Te Whare Takiura o Wikiriwhi
Wayne Shih
3717 Art and Sustainability
Lynnemaree Patterson
© Wayne Shih / 2017
Whiteclie College of Arts & Design
24 Balfour Road, Parnell, Auckland 1052
New Zealand
Te Whare Takiura o Wikiriwhi
24 Balfour Rori, Panēra, Tāmaki Makaurau 1052
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*Wayne Shih / 2017 Mar
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Ngāti Rangi Marae
Research Journal
Pukapuka Rātaka Rangahau
Untitled-3 2-3 26/03/17 3:11 PM
special thanks to
Ngāti Rangi, Whitecliffe, and HECUA
for making this trip possible
Ngāti Rangi Marae
Keith Wood
Mercia Wood
Bubba Wood-Wall
Tel'ya Wood
Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design
Lynnemaree Patterson
Becky Nunes
Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs
Charles Dawson
Peter Horsley
Lucy Carver
Rosie Horsley
Being on this trip gave me the opportunity to experience Ngāti Rangi iwi’s view and
engagement with their environment; it also gave me an insight into when differing views,
cultures, and way-of-life to nature collide and conflict each other.
Ngati Rangi is located in Ohakune, central North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Alongside with having some of my fellow Whitecliffers on this journey, we were joined with
HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) students from America, mostly
view from the marae; Ruapehu the guardian mountain in the background
Our first day (Thurs, Feb 23, 2017) was mainly meeting the HECUA students and getting to
know each other. Since this trip is about understanding the views and conflict between Ngāti
Rangi iwis and pākehās (focusing on the New Zealand government and private sectors), I’ve
decided to ask them what their view is to Native Americans (/ Indians). Hunter said that he’s
only had one encounter with Indian tribes, a one-day class field trip to the tribe, the trip mainly
consists of seeing their huts and dancing around a bonfire. Hunter also noted that most
Americans won’t have encounters to Native Americans as they live quite far from a tribe. Izzy,
majoring and interested in race and culture, said that Native American cultures is not typically
taught in the school curriculum except the European colonization of Northern America; and
in current times, the media and uneducated general public view the Indians as drunk,
gamblers and burden to society. When in fact, there shouldn’t be any discrimination,
especially when they don’t understand the culture. In her view the US federal government
isn’t putting as much effort as they can integrate / accommodate them into the current
society, in a way Native Americans are being segregated and being deprived rights; however,
it has improved significantly compared to the early administrations.
Day two, we stayed at the marae and the journey officially begun. After being pōwhiri
(welcomed) into the marae, we quickly settled into our new home and we were asked why we
were here. There were lots of heart warming and soul searching answers shared around.
Ruapehu (our ancestral mountain) and Te Wai a Moe (the crater lake) are sacred to
the Ngati Rangi people, Ruapehu is a sacred gift of creation, a living breathing force
that provides us with spiritual sustenance, elevates our spiritual well being and
humbles us with awesome presence.
It is a gift to be kept sacred by all people. A gift to be honoured and respected
not only by Ngati Rangi, but all people of our nation, People of the World have
honoured mountains with World Heritage Status and this should not be desecred by
mans interference at the Crater.
“the timeless face of our ancestral mountain Ruapehu must not be changed
by the hand of man”
If we allow this to happen, then there is no place left sacred in the world, and all
that we value is lost forever.
(Ngati Rangi, 2009)
Saturday, day three, we travelled through the Karioi Forest and walked up onto Mount
Ruapehu to view the Wahianoa River valley. While driving through the forest we saw the
effect of deforestation caused by Winstone Pulp International (WPI) who uses the logs for
timers and paper, through the local Karioi Paper Mill. However, the scale was less significant
compared to the colonization period of New Zealand. In 18~1900s, when the forest in
Tongariro National Park was cleared, the native birds left (moved south) which impacted the
local iwis’ food source. Weka was known as the last native bird to leave Tongariro around
1950s. Thankfully, due to numerous replanting projects, the native birds are slowly restoring
to the original status.
After 5 min from the starting point of the walk, we could already see Nagati Rangi’s
onetapū (the sacred sand), bushes and plants living in the sand together that filters the water
flowing down from Ruapehu. The sand areas were acquired by Ministry of Defence (MoD)
after World War II which is being used for bombing, ballistic testing and training. The iwis are
having ongoing negotiations with the local government and MoD. The water which flows into
the river way, Waikato River, supplies the upper North Island.
We stopped at a peak where we were able to connect with the mauri (life force
(Moorfield, 2017)) of Matua Te Mana (Ruapehu) and the Wahianoa River through the karakia
(ritual chants (Moorfield, 2017)). Looking down the valley, seeing the wai flowing down the
riverway from the four major peaks; while the wind flows through me was a breath-taking
experience, both visually and spiritually. Hearing all the stories and legal battles Ngāti Rangi
fought for their land’s right makes me feel even more grateful to be here.
39°1952”S 175°37’39”E 1347m
The four major peaks of Ruapehu (left to right): Koritangutapu (sacred peak),
Tahurangi (burning heaven; refers to the volcano), Tenatop (the hand of blood), and Nukuho.
[possible sic]
After the hike, we visited the Eastern Division sites of Tongariro Power Scheme (TPS)
in Karioi Forest. TPS, operated by Genesis Energy, have tunnel systems throughout the
national park and redirects water through intake systems into Moawhango Dam, an artificial
lake created inside the Waiouru Military Training Area (WMTA).
Wahianoa Aqueduct Intake
There are multiple hydro electrical power generated along the tunnel. The redirected
water is ultimately taken up to Auckland via Lake Taupō. However, the water naturally flows
to the west coast of North Island and into the Pacific Ocean. The Māori way of thinking is to
follow what nature intends, ie. not redirecting water through artificial tunnels. Traditional Māori
ideology of kaitiakitangaguardianship, protection, and preservation as a way of engaging
with the environment comes in conflict with what TPS is built for. The New Zealand
government views the scheme purely as an economical benefit, supply the upper North
Island for water and renewable electricity while disregarding the local iwi’s way of thinking.
This was the first time I came in contact with kaitiakitanga. Primary and secondary
schooling has taught me the benefits of hydroelectricity, which is definitely a clean and
renewable source for power supply. But it completely ignored the aspects of the local iwis,
and wild life. Since dams and tunnel systems are built, the native animals and fishes have
been disruptive; as the system doesn’t allow a continuous flow of water, due to generating
electricity water is being passes through in a fast-moving pace and irregular intervals.
Our old people felt very deeply about our tūpuna awa and our tūpuna maunga. They
were and continue to be part of who we are as Ngāti Rangi. They have a lifeforce as
we do, and we share in each other's sustenance
Our old people didn't so much
teach us by telling us, but we were taught by being taken with them and watching
them. You could tell by the way they touched the water it was like a caress. There
was and still is a sacredness about our rivers and springs, and the relationship we
have with them. It is the same for all our kin of the natural world.”
Ida (Morna) Taute. November 10, 2003. Environmental Court
(Ngati Rangi, 2008)
August 2001, Manawatū-Wanganui Regional Council grants Genesis Energy a 35-
year resource consent for TPS, despite objections from all local iwis. Ngāti Rangi Iwi,
Whanganui Iwi, and Tamahaki filed appeals with the Environmental Court objecting to the
resource consent. One year later, Genesis files expert evidence in court that mouri [life
principle (Moorfield, 2017)] is a recently evolved religious belief that has no customary or
traditional basis [] and the TPD causes minor environmental damage.” 4 months before the
court hearing, Genesis offers a financial settlement to withdraw appeal, Ngāti Rangi rejects
financial settlement. The trial span through from September to December 2003 in numerous
locations; Taupo, Okahune, Tirorangi, Taumarunui, and Wellington. (Ngati Rangi, 2008)
The mouri of our tūpuna awa Moawhango, once a magnificent and aweinspiring
river, has been decimated by the TPD. She was traditionally an important fishing
ground and a key waterway for our people of Ngati Rangi and Whanganui lwi for
travelling to Ngati Kahungunu to trade. The imposition of the TPD and other Crown
policies and actions has cut us off from our tūpuna taonga and is a deep grievance
for our people. [
] As our pāhake have explained, sharing and mutual enhancement
between ourselves and our kin of the natural world means that no one individual
becomes wealthy (with personal possessions) to the expense of kin, including our kin
of the natural world. This is integral to our ethic of kaitiakitanga. While this may defy
Western thinking, it is very real to us. When our capacity to maintain these
relationships and practices is severed, this meaning is impaired to the extent that our
intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being is also impaired. Our way of relating with
the natural world defies a Western world view and tests the bounds of scientific
rationality. We do not reject that world view; we simply ask not to be dismissed by it
and its distinctive and particular values and ethics. We seek instead to be considered
alongside it in resource management processes and practice.
(Brief of evidence of Keith William Paetaha Wood before the Waitangi Tribunal, 2006)
The court ruled against TPS, reducing the consent to 10 years and instates a limit on
daily water outtakes from the rivers. The reduction of consent will give Genesis and iwis time
to work together to find a mutual solution.
The fourth day, we went into WTMA to get a closer look at MoD’s usage of onetapū, lahar
path down Whangaehu River, Genesis Energy’s hydroelectricity stations and dam.
We explored the plant lives living in onetapū, most dates back hundreds of years.
Looking down we sometimes could see the bullet shell casing and bomb remnants. We were
told that MoD are now doing some clean-ups but have a long way to go.
Te Onetapū
Mangaio Tunnel and Drop Structure
Water from the Wahianoa aqueduct passes under the Desert Road through the
Mangaio Tunnel and either into Mangaio Power Station or a drop structure to enter
the Lake Moawhango via the Mangaio Stream. [
] When operating, the power station
will provide additional generation to the Tongariro Power Scheme of approximately
1.8MW's of electricity. The Moawhango Dam dams the Moawhango River and
Mangaio Stream to create Lake Moawhango. Lake Moawhango has a normal
operating range of approximately 15.2 metres and as such rarely spills except during
the largest floods.
(Genesis Energy, 2006)
Moawhango Dam
The last trip was to Lake Rotokura, the sacred healing lake. We walked up the track in
silent, observing the environment with our senses; hearing the birds chirping away in the
distance, the wind blowing against the tree, insects buzzing away, and observing the big and
small plant lives. Some of the unexpected discoveries include a hidden water flow and purple
mushroom (pouch fungus; cortinarius porphyroideus).
Day five, the hardest part of the trip was the day to say korero whakamutunga (farewell).
Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au.
I am the river, and the river is me.
The whakatauākī (proverb) above came from the people of the Whanganui region. In
physics, the law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor
destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another. We as human beings live on planet
Earth, we use natures resources. I’d like to think that the river’s spirits and emotional energy
gets transformed to me either through being in the river or simply drinking water. Therefore,
we should do our best in conserving the environment and appreciate it by learning more.
Works Cited
Brief of evidence of Keith William Paetaha Wood before the Waitangi Tribunal, WAI 1130,
1263, 151, 277, 467, 554 (Waitangi Tribunal, Ministry of Justice August 18, 2006).
Genesis Energy. (2006, June).
Tongariro Power Scheme description
. Retrieved from
Haunui-Thompson, S. (2017, March 16).
Radio New Zealand - Whanganui River to gain
legal personhood
. Retrieved from
Moorfield, J. C. (2017). Retrieved March 2017, from Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary:
Ngati Rangi. (2008).
Ngati Rangi perspectives for resource management to protect our
sacred waterways.
Auckland, New Zealand.
Ngati Rangi. (2009).
Te Kahui maunga: Kaitiakitanga (Mount Ruapehu crater lake - Lahar
mitigation perspectives).
New Zealand: Ngati Rangi.
Updates after the trip
March 15, 2017
Whanganui river claims settlement bill was passed giving the Whanganui river the same
status as a legal person. (Haunui-Thompson, 2017) After 160 years, the river is finally
recognised as what Maori have always seen it to be. Which will now ensure the resources the
river brings to the land and people can continue to do so without the disruption of man. Let’s
hope this brings to light the other scared places that are in danger of being tainted by man
from being turned into a recreational place.
March 24, 2017
I attended a Viceland preview screening “Needles & Pins: Tā Moko”. Ta Moko is the
traditional Maori tattoos. The documentary discussed how in current times, moko is
associated to gang members and criminal activities as a form of rebellion of the colonization
period. However, more iwis are going back to their tribe chiefs for permission to get moko as
they are taking ownership and embracing their Maori identity and culture.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Tongariro Power Scheme description
Genesis Energy. (2006, June). Tongariro Power Scheme description. Retrieved from
Radio New Zealand-Whanganui River to gain legal personhood
  • S Haunui-Thompson
Haunui-Thompson, S. (2017, March 16). Radio New Zealand-Whanganui River to gain legal personhood. Retrieved from
Ngati Rangi perspectives for resource management to protect our sacred waterways
  • Ngati Rangi
Ngati Rangi. (2008). Ngati Rangi perspectives for resource management to protect our sacred waterways. Auckland, New Zealand.
Te Kahui maunga: Kaitiakitanga (Mount Ruapehu crater lake-Lahar mitigation perspectives)
  • Ngati Rangi
Ngati Rangi. (2009). Te Kahui maunga: Kaitiakitanga (Mount Ruapehu crater lake-Lahar mitigation perspectives). New Zealand: Ngati Rangi.