Hāpu Connectedness Project - Rengarenga Marae
Marae (meeting place) are unique to Aotearoa New Zealand, but specifically to Māori culture. They embody ancestors and Māori consider them as tāonga (treasures). They are commonly on hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe) turangawaewae (place to stand) and equally important, they are central to Māori identity. To have a turangawaewae means having a place to stand, to belong and connect to that place. The dilemma for Ngāti Mōtai is that we do not have a marae, a place to stand and as a result, a vital part of our identity is missing.
Based on semi-structured interviews with descendants of Ngāti Mōtai and complemented with historical narratives derived from Treaty settlement documentation, this thesis explores the history of the traditional marae of Ngāti Mōtai, Rengarenga Marae, and its people. In doing so, I intend to contribute to hapū aspirations to collate information about the original marae in order to begin rebuilding our marae and re-establishing our identity as a hapū of Rengarenga Marae.
This research has found that actions of the Crown in the 1880s resulted in Ngāti Mōtai being wrongfully dispossessed of customarily owned land, in particular, Whaiti Kuranui 6C2C West A which contained significant cultural and historic sites, including Rengarenga Marae. The partition of Whaiti Kuranui in the 1880s ultimately led to the alienation of Whaiti Kuranui 6C2C West A and the separation of Ngāti Mōtai from Rengarenga Marae.
Ngāti Mōtai are currently planning the rebuild of the marae, albeit not on the original site but on ancestral Ngāti Mōtai land. The Ngāti Mōtai vision for Rengarenga Marae is “A puna (spring) from which to grow” and encapsulates a foundation stone where the mauri (life force) of the marae is kept safe and warm and will provide a turangawaewae for the generations to come. Whānau (family) and hapū are critical to this transformation.
However, at present, the rebuild is largely uncoordinated. This thesis suggests that by drawing on marae/hapū-based projects from other regions there is scope for increased cohesion and collaboration amongst the hapū in order to develop innovative strategies. The aspirations that we hold for our marae can be achieved by a community-based approach.