For many of the students the visit to both the National Library and National Archives was a highlight. Professor Whatarangi Winiata (centre) and students are being shown through the registration process.
Students completing the first stage of a Māori information management qualification at Te Wānanga o Raukawa are keen to use their new-found skills to assist Ngāti Raukawa in its Treaty of Waitangi claims.
The initial stage of the Puna Maumahara course comprised eight sessions held over four weekends in January and February. This course was offered fee-free to iwi members and the wānanga provided scholarships to the value of $80,000 for the 23 students. The first stage finished this weekend.
Former truck driver Peter Reweti, belonging to Ngāti Raukawa hapū Parewahawaha and Ngāti Pikiahuwaewae, was one of 23 students and said he was now keen to get involved in hapū research as part of the treaty claim process.
“I spent all my life working in all sorts of different jobs and I suppose now it’s time for me to step into te ao Māori (the Māori world).”
Mr Reweti said he didn’t achieve that much at school but the learning experience over the last two months was “like a slingshot”. If he completes the whole course, which ends in September, he will qualify with a NZQA accredited level 5 diploma in Māori information management. This course comprises the first year of a three year bachelor’s degree.
He’s now motivated to become involved with environmental and cultural issues such as the erosion problems of the Rangitikei River, reduced waterway levels and the loss of food resources - all treaty-related.
“I remember when I was a kid. We would go out eeling and get enough to feed our kids and our whanau. We’d have extra to give out, not only to just the Māori but we would feed Pākehā as well. Last time I went out for an eel we only got three or four.”
The course was run in conjunction with Te Hono ki Raukawa, one of the major claimant groups spearheading the claim’s process. Te Hono council member Professor Whatarangi Winiata said the group are carrying out an extensive research programme to support the Ngāti Raukawa treaty claims.
The research was over a wide range of topics including failure of successive governments to acknowledge tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty). Research would produce a wealth of knowledge to support the claims. Despite having a large number of iwi academics, trained researchers and scholars Te Hono still require others to help such as Mr Reweti and his experience living on the Rangitīkei River.
“We need to make sure we have people who know the river and are able to comment on direct experience.”
In this way Professor Winiata said when Ngāti Raukawa present their findings to the Tribunal “there will be a large number of people who will be familiar with the research and the whole process.”
Importantly the students will be helping their own hapū produce their oral and traditional histories. This was one part of a hapū-centric approach and capacity building.
“I think we can say we’re focused on the hapū experience rather than just the claim experience.”
The part of the claim process will run through to 2017 and Professor Winiata said there was no specific deadline but “the Crown had indicated it would not be ready to talk to Raukawa till 2017.”