Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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He Whiringa Muka: The Relationship between the Whanganui River, Marae, and Waiata

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posted on 2022-03-03, 02:34 authored by Meri Haami

The relationship between the Whanganui River, Rānana Marae, and waiata are layered interconnections that speaks to a unique positionality, view, and lived experience for those who descend from this region. This thesis seeks to uncover the mechanisms of these three sites of research by drawing on Kaupapa Māori, Tupua Te Kawa from Te Awa Tupua, ecomusicology and performative ethnography. Coinciding with these methodologies are the ethical frameworks, tikanga Whanganui and Whanganui kaiponu, which all inform the use of wānanga as a way of gathering knowledge, enabling the voices of the descendants of Rānana Marae to emerge. These discussions were analysed using thematic analysis and contextualised amongst interdisciplinary spaces. These include whakapapa, Māori oral tradition and histories, ecomusicology, orality, waiata performance and pedagogies, ethnomusicology, colonisation, and racism.

Through the study emerged a story that recounted and recontextualised the pā auroa and hīnaki from Te Awa Tupua. The pā auroa and hīnaki are not only a means of past sustenance through providing food for Whanganui iwi, but they embody a conceptual and theoretical strategy for creating a healthy succession infrastructure surrounding waiata as a health indicator of one’s whakapapa/connection to the environment and themselves. Further, this study provides a Kaupapa Māori ecomusicological framework called, ‘he whiringa hīnaki’ that draws on the lived experiences from descendants of Rānana Marae to contribute towards future generations who wish to examine waiata within its environmental and ancestral contexts. In weaving these many threads together, Kaupapa Māori and ecomusicological practices brought healing by showing how waiata connects peoples and place while adding to collective and individual well-being. This research arose future implications in how past wisdoms embedded within waiata of tūpuna inform how Rānana Marae continue to navigate the future surrounding succession.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-SA 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Diettrich, Brian; Ross, Mike