Rangitāne o Wairau has launched a new exhibition in the lobby of Rangitāne House, in the heart of Blenheim’s central business district. The exhibition brings kōrero tuku iho to life through art and science, and displays artworks crafted by Israel Tangaroa Birch (Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Tawake, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka).
In 2013 NIWA and Rangitāne met to discuss a pūrākau recorded by Arthur Carrington in 1934. From these discussions it was concluded that the pūrākau was a ‘seismic tradition’ and the following year geological research began at Te Pokohiwi-o-Kupe (the Wairau Bar). The results of the research aligned with the pūrakau, and it is likely that at least three tsunami events have occurred at the site over the last 2,000 years.
“This exhibition takes pūrākau, toi Māori, and pūtaiao in new directions. It is inspired by and builds on the work of past generations while creating space in which new knowledge can form and new narratives can emerge,” says Rangitāne Trustee Dr. Peter Meihana (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāi Tahu).
“For Rangitāne this exhibition is another contribution to our whare kōrero. It provides insights into the ways in which our ancestors understood the world around them and their place in it.”
NIWA Regional Manager Dr. Darren Ngaru King (Ngāti Raukawa) says, “We consider the pūrākau from Te Pokohiwi-o-Kupe to be a powerful medium to demonstrate precedents and stimulate community understanding and acceptance of co-seismic tsunami risks. We also consider it highlights responsibilities that we have to uphold our histories for past, present, and future generations.”
Exhibition curator and artist, Israel Tangaroa Birch says his role on the Kaupapa is “bridging the space between science and the research that NIWA has conducted and mātauranga Māori specific to the Wairau Bar.”
Rangitāne o Wairau Kaiwhakaere Matua (General Manager) Corey Hebberd (Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāi Tahu, Te Ātiawa o Te Waka a Māui) says that the exhibition will be displayed in the lobby of Rangitāne House for the coming year.
“This latest project is a continuation of work by Rangitāne to showcase the rich history and kōrero tuku iho of our unique region. As tangata whenua, Rangitāne is proud to showcase our region, to tell our stories and to inspire learnings from our past. The opportunity to partner with NIWA in the delivery of this project and these artworks has enabled us to record our history in a new way – by bringing the kōrero to life through the scientific findings,” says Corey.
This Kaupapa was made possible with funding from the inaugural Ākina Te Tū – Kaupapa Māori Resilience funding round. The purpose of the fund is to support Māori researchers, enhance Mātauranga Māori implementation into research, and enable tangata whenua engagement within projects that are already underway in the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge.