What happens to a North Hokianga marae and the kāinga it serves when the young people leave to find paid employment miles from home? And who looks after the old people, the ahi ka, left behind? Are there traditional tohunga in our midst today? Who is qualified to speak on the taumata and to lead new generations into the future? How are leaders trained and what qualifies them to lead? How long does it take to smoke a juicy mullet?
Answers lie in the richly storied pages of this book commissioned by former marae leader, Peter Martin, to record the ancient way of life of his hapū. Te Tao Maui and Te Hokokeha occupy a wedge of coast between the Tasman Sea and the Warawara ranges. This splintering of people maintain a way of life practised by generations before them. Their descriptions of food gathering and traditional healing practises offer rare insight into a way of life long lost to most of us.
References to esoteric aspects of life in and around Matihetihe and Mitimiti illuminate these pages. Likewise, the history and mana of the place. Peace was finally established here between Ngapuhi and Tainui at the beginning of last century. Ralph Hotere, artist of international renown, was raised here. A symbolic red gate in the urupā is a tribute to the people of Mitimiti who respectfully collected and buried the bones of Chinese gold miners and labourers washed ashore after the sinking of the SS Ventnor in 1902. The New Zealand Chinese Society dedicated a plaque at the red gate in the urupā to local Maori who treated the bones of their ancestors as they would have treated their own. The plaque acknowledges a coming together of cultures. No place in Hokianga, indeed no place in New Zealand, exists in genuine isolation. Our coasts, awa, maunga, ngahere and whakapapa connect us all. So will the beautifully rendered stories in the pages of this book.
Grants are currently being sought to print and publish this important work.