living by stars image

Living by the Stars with Dr Rangi Matamua

Dr Rangi Matamua Lecture Waikato University – Te Whanau Marama

Te Whanau Marama – ‘The family of light’

Dr Rangi Matamua has started a journey and arguably, an invaluable one to revitalise traditional Maori knowledge, philosophy through teachings he retained from his elders.

The tikanga Maori or Maori philosophy and law and how Maori interpreted the stars in conjunction with Te Ra (The Sun) and Te Marama (The Moon) to adjust to the change in seasons, foretell weather and when to plant crops and even social relationships for example were all written in a book – ‘pukapuka’ developed by certain Tohunga or High Priests despite the advent of christian teachings when European immigrants started migrating to Aotearoa in the early to mid nineteenth century.

The expose Dr Matamua has started can be followed on a website Living by the Stars and he also regularly posts on Facebook.

The research, teachings and philosophy revitalised by Dr Matamua indicate a very ancient knowledge retained for successive generations needless to say te Reo has been adjusted in meaning and comprehension into an English thought process when in tradition the language was particularly suited to interpretations of the natural world.

Dr Matamua has transformed the knowledge passed down to him into a book as well titled;

‘Matariki the Star of the Year’ or in te Reo Maori ‘Matariki te Whetu tapu o te Tau’.

Matariki book image

Image Credit: Living By The Stars

The report and research prepared for but yet to be filed onto the Waitangi Tribunal casebook archive by members of the society on behalf claimants also covers Maori traditional knowledge, philosophy expanding on research by expat New Zealander Dr Barry Fell and a connection – trading routes – between Pacific nations – peoples including Aotearoa and Maori with South East Asia up through the Indian Ocean and into the Middle East or vice versa millennia before European Explorer Columbus discovered the Americas around 1492.

Dr Fells research pre-dates modern historical theories as evidence of early seafaring capability by two thousand years and of course many aspects of South American flora, fauna and wildlife developed into common use today e.g. the Potato, the humble chicken or Kumara and Gourd plant known and used by Maori for centuries as some of many examples.

Decorative examples of Gourd used by Maori for centuries. Origins, South America

Gourd image

Image credit: Newsroom

The interesting thing about Gourd is that it has been growing wildly in Abyssinia now called Ethiopia and in parts of India which undoubtedly indicates earlier interaction between seafaring peoples of Southern America, Pacific and the African continent.

The question raised here – is there any correlation between traditional Maori knowledge and philosophy, Matariki te Whetu tapu o te Tau and ancient Middle Eastern philosophy? and, we just need to look at the famous pyramids on the Giza plateau – the alignment with the Orion constellation to realise that there is indeed an ancient philosophy lost or mis-interpreted by early historical philosophers for one reason or another lost in the archives.

The Famous Giza Pyramids and alignment with ‘Orion’s Belt’

pyramids alignment image

Image Credit:

Dr Matamuas’ work is most interesting in this regard suggesting the very ancient philosophy retained by Maori Tohunga despite settler indifference.

Christian philosophy – claimed to be monotheism in nature as opposed to polytheism which according to Wikipedia sources;

Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. In most religions which accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendentalabsolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies).[1]

Source Wikipedia

That interpretation between these seemingly distinct philosophies is I think too pragmatic if true history is studied but polytheism most definitely includes most if not all of the older indigenous peoples vis a vis christian beliefs and ideals said to be of fairly recent construction.

The society hopes to invite Dr Rangi Matamua for a session, talk and discussion – ‘Korero’ event at some time in the future to share more knowledge with the society and the wider community.

Archives New Zealand coming to Horowhenua

The National Library, Archives New Zealand and Nga Toanga Sound and Vision are shifting from its building with invaluable items in Wellington to a state of the art facility to be built in the Horowhenua at Taitoko or Levin.

The Taonga or treasures of national significance will be housed in a special purpose (yet to be) built building to help preserve them better than where they are currently housed.

The current site at 10 Mulgrave Street Wellington for Archives New Zealand is an older building susceptible to water leaks and contains asbestos making the decision following a tender process for the best available facility to help maintain important items and national treasures a very easy one in the end.

The announcement was made by Internal Affairs 11 December 2020 in a joint partnership deal struck with Horowhenua Company Limited, Electra and Horowhenua Developments Limited.

Amoung the items of national heritage could be He Wakaputunga o te Rangatiratanga o Niu Terani 1835 or the declaration of the united tribes of New Zealand which was originally signed in 1835 and promulgated in the colony of New South Wales. The document was accepted and acknowledged by the colonial office which gave rise to the requirement of a treaty between nations now called the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Will the treaty be coming to the Horowhenua? It is likely that the document will indeed be cared for in the purpose built Horowhenua facility.

The original signings of Te Tiriti occurred at the ‘tail of the fish of Maui’ Te Tai Tokerau, Northland 6 February 1840 with other copies taken nationwide to be signed by many Maori signatories including Women and children. Many signatures were obtained on the Kapiti Takutai, the spiritual home of the Mua o te Tangata people.

Horowhenua is of course home to the Muaupoko people or ‘the front of the head’ of the fish of Maui – Te Ika a Maui – ‘the fish of Maui’ or more commonly referred to as the North Island of New Zealand. The South Island is also known as ‘Te Waka a Maui’ or the ‘canoe of Maui’.

Captain Cook originally recorded the South Island as Te Waipounamu and the North Island as Ahi No Maui which our research has deciphered for reporting to the Waitangi Tribunal throwing up some doubt as to the meanings applied by usage of Te Ika and Te Waka a Maui interpretations.

After his initial visits to ‘Golden Bay’ aka as ‘Mohua’ or ‘Te Tai Tapu’ at the top end of Te Waipounamu and his interaction with ‘tangata whenua’ – ‘people of the land’ from around 1769.

Image of ‘Te Ika a Maui’

image Te Ika a Maui

Image of Cooks initial Map of Aotearoa – Cook had a Tahitian Interpreter onboard.

cooks Map image

Muaupoko survived through relatively recent invasions by Ngati Toa largely driven by early speculator interaction in the early eighteenth century who were responsible for much upheaval between the tribes as well as the more serious impact of contagious fatal disease and later land acquisitions by the Crown and the dubious operations of the Native Land Court starting in 1865.

The Muaupoko people are made up of original tangata whenua (Mua o te Tangata) and later migrant groups and so their history is a lot older than normally perceived due to largely inaccurate historical literature and whakapapa accounts built around the initial dealings with the Crown.

The business park is likely to attract many visitors including researchers and tourists should the treaty and declaration be put on show as anticipated.

Waitangi Tribunal at Levin Events Centre 2015

The Waitangi Tribunal in our region

According to the Waitangi Tribunal website :

The Waitangi Tribunal is a standing commission of inquiry. The tribunal makes recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to legislation, policies, actions or omissions of the Crown that are alleged to breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi or in Maori, Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840.

The Te Reo Maori version, which is quite different to the English version, as English then was itself quite different to what it is today, is the document that was signed by all of the Maori Rangatira available to sign at the time. Different Maori versions were signed around the Country as Hobson set about the task of establishing Crown Maori relationships in 1840 nationwide.

In this region the document is referred to as the Cook Strait Sheet which included some notable and not so notable or recognisable signatories for Maori. Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield were assigned the task in 1840 by then Consul Hobson capturing signatories in northern Te Waipounamu, Te Tai Ihu and Te Tai Tapu and southern Ahi No Maui  Poneke, Papanui, Kapiti Takutai as far north as the Whanganui or Te Waka a Maui and Te Ika a Maui for the South and North Island Maori populations respectively at the time.

Te Tiriti is without compare in international treaties and is seen by many noteworthy scholars as best described as a ‘treaty of protection’ guaranteed Maori. Without question a fundamental constitutional document of the ‘unwritten constitution’ of New Zealand and somewhat overshadowed by early colonial law impacting all New Zealanders. This is without question one of the key grievances that are well founded by claimants to the tribunal.

The other serious problem for the tribunal is the introduction of the Native Land Court in 1864 and use of legal principles that are contradictory to the English law guaranteed protection to Maori by Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840.

Maori were not officially acknowledged as Crown subjects in law until the introduction of Native Rights Act 1865.

One may ask, why a treaty? That answer is very simple.

Preceding the treaty was a Crown Colonial Office acknowledged declaration of independence on record as He Wakaputunga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tereni 1835 signed by various Rangatira including a few south of Ruapehu. A fact not well known. The declaration was promulgated  or simply put, registered in the New South Wales gazette at the time. New Zealand at that time was considered to be part of the New South Wales colony of ‘New Munster’ now Australia by the English Crown.

This is where the frailties of law principles long established in the ‘imported’ English law for those considered to be Crown subjects is ‘exposed’.

He Whakaputunga falls outside ‘by hook or frankly by crook’ New Zealand legislation which was by New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was later given effect, not from 1835 and the earlier declaration but from February 1840 some five years after the declaration had already been acknowledged by the English Crown or precisely when Governor Hobson left New South Wales bound for New Zealand and to settle on an international treaty between two distinct nations in February 1840.

In defensive argument during tribunal hearings, the Crown Lawyers generally rely on, ‘what were the circumstances prevailing at the time’ when negotiations for land purchases, with respect to the treaty were made.

Yes the Crown did in fact know very well about both the declaration of independence in 1835 and the requirements of the treaty in 1840 during negotiations to buy land from Maori which gained momentum rapidly following legislation to introduce the Native Land Court in 1864.

From around 1840 the New Zealand Company under Captain Edward G Wakefield began conveying large numbers of new migrants to New Zealand to start a new life which escalated a myriad of problems Maori were confronting at the time.

One of the biggest problems for the Tangata Whenua was the fatal impact of contagious disease as interaction with new migrants intensified.

Needless to say the impact of influenza and tuberculosis was very severe spanning decades not only reducing Maori numbers significantly but affecting subsequent generations in ways not often given due consideration.

Role of the Waitangi Tribunal.

The tribunal has over the years clarified treaty principle breaches in some very good inquiries. The role of the Tribunal is set out in section 5 of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 and includes:

  • inquiring into and making recommendations on well-founded claims
  • examining and reporting on proposed legislation, if it is referred to the Tribunal by the House of Representatives or a Minister of the Crown
  • making recommendations or determinations about certain Crown forest land, railways land, state-owned enterprise land, and land transferred to educational institutions.

The Hautonga Society Incorporated has been active in supporting claims Wai 623, 624 and 1490 filed by founding member Mrs Ada Tatana dating back to 1996. The hearings for MuaUpoko claimants began in Levin or Taitoko on the shores of Roto Horowhenua in October 2015 as part of the Wai 2200 District Inquiry. The focus of the two and a half week hearings was on the Horowhenua Block award to Muaupoko of 52,000 acres in 1873. The  tribe was under the ‘stewardship’ or Kaitiake of two very prominent Rangatira at the time namely Major Keepa te Rangihiwinui whose father, Tanguru was Muaupoko and Kawana Hunia son of Te Hakeke of Whanganui whose mother was Muaupoko.

Te Rangihiwinui;s mother Rereomaki is said to be one of very few women to have signed however our research indicates that there were in fact numerous Wahine Rangatira in this region that actually signed Te Tiriti but were not identified until recently.

The interesting feature of the Horowhenua Block hearings is the fact that Maori were not permitted to form a trust over their own lands. Te Rangihiwnui in particular was drawn into years of protracted court hearings at immense cost (including land in lieu) to essentially clarify his position as trustee for the tribe not the sole owner of the entire 52,000 acre Horowhenua Block as prescribed by the title. A mechanism used by the Crown to individualise the land into seperate partitions from which buy ups by settlers afterward proved a fait accompli for the tribe and its community structure.

An initial ‘Horowhenua: Muaupoko Priority Report’ was published in 2017.

Since then Hautonga Marae has hosted numerous Hui regarding the claims, report findings and preparing for future hearings as inquiry extends interests beyond Horowhenua Block.

You can obtain a copy of the ‘Horowhenua Block ‘ report from this link

Porirua ki Manawatu Inquiry District Map. Source Waitangi Tribunal

Distrcit Map Wai 2200 Inquiry

Hearings for Te Ati Awa/Ngati Awa claimants as tangata heke at Waikanae have concluded and a report is still forthcoming as at writing this post. Currently Raukawa claims as tangata heke are being heard.

Ngati Toa who under the leadership of Te Rauparaha and his nephew Te Rangihaeta came south to the Kapiti Takutai  from Kawhia around 1820 followed by Raukawa under Te Whatanui about one year later have already been through and settled treaty grievances with the Crown.

The tribunal hearings process is a long drawn out affair and can take many years to reach agreement and settlement with claimants.

The costs can also be immense but thankfully most claimants are afforded legal representation by legal aid services in return for their ‘tangata whenua’ experience and or tribal knowledge as part of the commission of inquiry process.

One particular grievance on point is the confiscation of a huge block (Block 12) of the Horowhenua Block to pay for the commission of inquiry in 1896, which was not favoured by Muaupoko in any event.

The following video attachment is a pretty good assessment of the legal implications of the treaty and the knowledge or lack of it by ordinary New Zealanders.

More to follow.