He Uru Mānuka — Creative cultural mapping and ‘restorying’ networked relations on the Waiapu River
Inspired by a little-known Tīkapa mōteatea, He Uru Mānuka, a love lament set among riverside mānuka groves, this project aims to document and culturally map selected Waiapu River locations pairing customary and contemporary technologies. In February 2023 during Cyclone Gabrielle, Waiapu River flooded to a height of 8 metres which exacerbated existing erosion, and further damaged vulnerable cultural and ecological sites. Once-common species utilised in Ngāti Porou lifestyle practices are severely impacted by rapid environmental change, leading to a loss of cultural knowledge. Yet, these practices foster invaluable and mauri-sustaining relationships with our ancestral river.
At a time when land is literally disappearing out to sea, this research aims to ‘restory’ our lifeways, linking creative practices with ecology to perpetuate relationships with the lower reaches of the Waiapu. The project’s core objective is to revitalise cultural practices such as net-making and fish weir building, whilst recording valuable data about environmental impacts on plant and fish species, for ngā hapū o Te Wīwī Nāti.
The project team will draw on Waiapu maramataka to determine the optimum times to undertake the practical research. Through culturally mapping with the use of contemporary technologies, the research will develop valuable connections between customary narratives of place about pā harakeke, mānuka and kānuka groves and amphidromous fish habitats. The project will create new video and photographic works that will be accessed by our communities and beyond to share the research results.
Research Lead(s) and Team
Dr Natalie Robertson
Mr Graeme Atkins
Dr Maree Sheehan