Our Tattooed Angels – our AIP signing story

Ngā Whatukura, Ngā Māreikura

Our Tattooed Angels

Me Te Whakatōhea Hīkoi Ōpōtiki Ki Poneke

A poem to mark our August 2017 Agreement in Principle signing by Muriel Ngahiwi Smith Kelly,
photos by
Kate Adams and translation by Paora Brosnan.

 The Tattooed Angels are our Tipuna

Day one: Thursday 17 August 2017, 5am

Rā tuatahi: Rāpare 17 o Hereturikōkā, 5 i te ata

We are gathered at the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board for Mihi, roll call, and karakia
Kua whakaminea mai mātou ki te Poari o Te Whakatōhea ki te mihi, ki te karanga ingoa me te karakia

6am

6 i te ata

The engine room mechanics have completed all the programme checks for the day
Kua oti i ngā kai aka mīhini ngā pūnaha te hihira i tēnei rā

Baggage stowed, paper bag lunches and water in hand, we board the buses including eight who are 80 years old and rising.
Kua takoto ngā pāhi, tina pēke pepa me te wai kei aku ringa, i ekea ngā pahi e mātou ko ngā pākeke kei te takiwā o te 80 tau neke atu

They drifted up those buses in style
Ka konene rātou i ngā pahi me te rearea hoki

Everyone is on a singular mission, for the morrow we had an assignation with the Crown
Kotahi noa iho te aronga, kei tua o te pō he hui tā mātou ko te Karauna

Aboard with us are our tattooed angels
Kua ekea hoki e ngā māreikura me ngā whatukura

 

 

The day it flies, interspersed with waiata, humour, comfort stops, and whānau to pick up along the way
Ka rere ko te rā, he paku waiata, katakata, tūnga, me ngā whanaunga i tiki i te taha rohi

Crossing the Waiouru Desert we are regaled with the legends of the battles between the giants ‘Nga Maunga, Mountains’
Ka whakawhiti atu ngā onepū o Waiouru, ka rongo i ngā kōrero pakanga o ngā toa nui ‘ngā maunga’

Battles between them over a Maiden Maunga
Pakanga i waenga i a rātou, ko te maunga wahine te tak.

The legend echoes around our ears
Ka oro noa mai te kōrero mō te toa i ngā taringa

They stand today, where the battle stopped
E tū noa rātou, i te otinga o te pakanga

Sentinels of the Desert
Toa o te koraha

The wind brushes the desert grasses
Ka pūhia ngā otaota e ngā hau

They shimmer and wave in their vibrant colours atop the terrain
Ka korito ka pōhiri i o rātou tai kaha i runga i te whenua

A fitting Korowai for Papatūānuku
Kātika he korowai mō Papatūānuku

It is time for bed making
Kua tae te wā ki te whakatika moenga

With showers to refresh us in readiness for dinner
Me ngā uhiuhi wai hei whakatika i te tinana mō te kai ā te pō

The beds they stretched from north to south
Ngā moe ga i toro i te Raki ki te Tonga

From east to west, including the stage space with barely a pathway left to negotiate to the ablution facilities
I te rāwhiti ki te uru, me te wāhi ātāmira he pakupaku noa iho te ara ki ngā whare horoi

The evening’s hākari over, lovely it was
Kua pai ngā kai o te hākari, reka katoa.

Time for settling down to rest
Kia tau te wairua me te hinengaro

It’s been a massive day
Kua roa hoki tēnei rā

For young and old alike
Mō ngā rangatahi me ngā pākeke

 

That is, except for the planning group
Atu i te tōpu whakarautaki

Checking, checking, and checking again
Ka hihira, hihira, hihira an.

For the next day’s proceedings must run smoothly
Nā te mea me rere pai ngā whakahaere āpōpō

The big day

He rā nui

The day of our assignation with the Crown
Te rā hui tahi me te karauna

Whanaungatanga rolls around the room
Ka huri ngā mahi whakawhanaungatanga

Some quiet Waiata
He paku waiata

A softly thrumming guitar
He paku rakuraku

Snatches of the day’s events
Kapohia i ngā whakaritenga o te rā

Mixed with laughter, chuckles, snorts
Me ngā kata, pukukata, whengu

And a little cry from our baby
He paku tangi i tō mātou pēpē

The pre-dawn

Te ata hāpara

Ahhhh!! It is quiet
Ā, kua ngū

Just a symphony of sounds rippling around
He kapa oro noa e huri ana

Nothing too distracting or disturbing
Kāre he mea e kaha kaha ana

You know, the usual
Mōhio koe, he rite tonu

Whoa, night’s entertainment is over
Hika, kua mutu ngā whakakitenga o te pō

It is quiet
Kua ngū

 

Sleep might steal upon me now, No!!
Tēnā pea ka whai mai taku moe

Knock, knock, knock upon the wall
Patōtō, pātōtō i te pātū

Dudu signals for the pre-dawn karakia to begin
Ka tohua e Dudu kia timata ngā karakia moata

Welcome the dawn
Nau mai te ata

Welcome the day
Nau mai te rā

Api joins in unison
Ka hāpai ake a Api

A duo chanting the chant
He tokorua e karakia ana

Peaceful, good
Rongopai, he pai

 

 

 

Day two

Rā tuarua

And so, to breakfast
Nā, ki te parakuihi

Humour an additional dish
He kata hei kīnaki i te kai

Te Reo lessons too
He whakaako re anō hoki

The day’s timetable is announced
Ka pānuihia ngā whakahaere o te rā

To balance the day
Kia tau te rā

Following breakfast and before departure
Ka whai te parakuihi i mua i te wehenga

There are kaumātua photographs
Ka tango pikitia ngā kaumātua

Pre-Settlement Trust photographs
Ka tango pikitia te komiti

Hitori Komiti Whiriwhiri photographs
Ngā whakaahua o te komiti hītōria

Hapu Katoa photographs
Whakaahua o ngā hapū katoa

Great!
Mīharo!


Cameras are upon us
Whakamau mai ngā kāmera

Flashing, manoeuvring, recording, archiving
Hikohiko, whakatikatika, hopu rīpene, penapena

Handbags, coats, and jackets
Pāhi, koti me ngā kaka

Are checking in by ushers,
Ka tirohia e ngā kaitiaki

To be uplifted on exit.
Kia whakahokia atu i te wehenga

The atmosphere is electric
Ka hiko nei te rā

 

The people move to their positions

Ka neke te tangata ki tōna wāhi tika

We have several kaikaranga to represent us. We wait.
He huhua tonu ngā kaikaranga ki te whakakanohi i a mātou

The doors open
Ka tūwhera ngā kūaha

Kaikaranga call to us to enter
Ka karanga noa mai ngā kaikaranga

Our kaikaranga respond.
Ka whakahoki atu ō mātou kaikaranga

The atmosphere lifts, higher, higher,
Ka hiki te wairua, ki taumata anō

And as is their custom in that part of the Māori world.
Kātika hoki ki ngā tikanga o tērā pito o te ao Māori

As at Pipitea
Pēnā i Pipita

The men preceded the women
Ka haere ngā tāne i mua i ngā wāhine

Our contingent of 220 plus fill the banquet room.
Tō mātou ope 220 neke atu ka whakakī i te whare

Echoes and flashes of past banquets in celebration of successful Raupatu of our people by the Crown

Play upon my mind
Mahara noa ngā hākari o muri ki te whakanui i ngā whakataunga o ngā raupatui te karauna ka mahara noa te hinengaro

I am not thinking clearly.
Kei te rehurehu aku whakaaro

Sequences of the formal processes
Ngā whakahaere ōkawa nei te tikanga

Become out of time to me
Ka taupatupatu ki a ahau

The strong presence of the ancestors
Kua tata mai gā tīpuna

Are strong inside the room.
He kaha o rātou wairua i te whare

 

Their presence has a purpose also
Ka whai take rātou ki konei

In tune with ours of times long ago
E haere ngātahi me ō mātou o tuawhakarere

I cry in my mind.
Ka tangi noa te hinengaro

I dislike the term banquet room.
Kāre e pai ki ahau te kupu whare hākari

 

Graeme Riesterer now stands for us as Chairperson of the Pre-Settlement Claims Trust looking stately.
Ka tū mai a Graeme Riesterer koia hei hiamana o te komiti me te rearea hoki.

Upon his shoulders, a Korowai Muka
He korowai muka kei ōnā pakihiwi

Woven by Ruka Hudson.
nā Ruka Hudson i whatu

Our ex Vietnam Veteran.
He hoia nō ngā pakanga o Witināma

A well thought through and considered korero that echoed the plight of our people
He whakaaro hōhonu he whakaaro whāroaroa e kōrero nei e oro nei i te tangata

The people wept
Ka tangi te tangata

The Crown stood in respectful silence
Ka tū ngū noa te karauna

 

Our tattooed angels a tangible presence
Ngā whatukura me ngā māreikura, anō nei he kikokiko

A korowai of strength and comfort
He korowai kaha, manaaki

There was not a doubt in the minds of our people that signing the Agreement in Principle
Kāre he paku amu kei te tihi o te hinengaro ka haina te whakaaetanga mātāpono

With good faith and will
Me te ngākau pono

Would carry us through
Māna ka kawea mātou

Into the future with confidence.
Ki tua o te ata

Minister Finlayson’s team has prepared per request three books for the signatures,
Kua whakaritea e ngā kaimahi o Minita Finlayson i ngā puka e toru hei hainatanga

To allow all to present to enter their names and the names of their hapū
E taea ai te katoa ki te haina i tō ratou ingoa mō o rātou hapū

And sign they did, children included.
Ka haina marika, me ngā tamariki hoki.

Our kai waiata never broke off their singing
Kāre i whati ngā kaiwaiata

 

Even as few by few they would take their place in the queue for signing.
Ahakoa he iti i te iti ka tāpiri mai hoki rātou i te rārangi haina.

I don’t know how long the process took.
Kāre au i te mōhio i pēhea te roa.

They had become of no consequence
Kāre he whakahokinga mai

So, the people they had signed
Nā, kua haina te iwi

And the people they had wept
Nā, kua tangi te iwi

And the people they had prayed
Nā, kua karakia te iwi

And the people they had sung
Nā, kua waiata te iwi

As our tattooed angels stood to witness and support the kaupapa
Ko ngā whatukura me ngā māreikura hei kaitautoko i te kaupapa

 

Day Two – Evening

Rā tuarua – Te ahiahi

Minister Chris Finlayson and his team are in attendance
Haere mai a Minita Chris Finlayson me ana kaimahi

Also, our Deputy Mayor Lyn Riesterer and her team.
Taea noatia ki te Mea tuarua i a Lyn Riesterer me ana kaimahi

The evening’s facilitator Bruce Pukepuke assisted by Danny Paruru
Ko te kai whakahaere o te pō ko Bruce Pukepuke nā Danny Paruru i tautoko

Karakia o nga kai

Customary speeches
Ngā kōrero ōkawa

Selected speakers are invited to stand
Ngā kaikōrero e tika ana i pōhiritia mai

There is no open forum
Kāre e wātea ai te papa

Later that same evening
Nō muri rawa mai

The youngsters explored
I tipi haere ngā rangatahi

They tippled at the Backbencher’s bar
Te tippled me te Backbencher’s Pāpara kāuta

They checked out the trends
Ka haere ki te nohi

Socialising, whakawhanaungatanga
Ki te whakahoahoa, ki te whakawhanaungatanga

Returning to Pipitea
Ka hoki mai ki Pipitea

Before the coach turned into a proverbial pumpkin
Ki mua i te huringa o te koneke ki te paukena

 

Bless their hearts
Whakawhetaitia o rātou ngākau

Most of us were happy to stay home
Te nui ō mātou i koa ki te noho mai

Yak! Yak! Yak!
Ketekete ana, ketekete ana

Much wiser the second time around
Kua mau he mātauranga i te huringa tuarua

Marcia and I commandeered two fat sofas, leather too.
Ka nōhia ngā hōpā e rua nei e māua ko Marcia, he kiri kau anō hoki.

Others in the kaumātua room with us has double decker mattresses
wērā atu i te rūma kaumātua e rua ngā mātarihi

Outside our bedroom door, a sentry in the guise of Louis
I waho noa i tō mātou tatau, he hēteri i te tinana o Louis

A blissful night
He pō āiō

Slept like Baby Moses in his reed cradle.
Te moe a te pēpē Mohi i tana moenga raupō

 

 

Day Three

Rā tuatoru

North of Poneke
Te raki o Poneke

The seas are calm and beautiful
He marino ngā wai o te moana

A sense of joy and achievement comes over us
He wairua koa, wairua whakatutuki i tau mai

All the way home.
Tae noa ki te kāinga

Tohe would appear in different forms
He huhua tonu ngā tinatina o Tohe

Like a nod of,
Pēnā i te moe,

‘Hey! You did okay’
‘ē! Ka pai kē koe’

 

Between stops we break for a Tātou picnic
I weanga i ngā whakatūtanga ka tū ki te kai

Back aboard stories are shared on the buses
Hoki atu ki te pahi kei te hurihuri ngā kōrero

The children too, encapsulate their thoughts on the previous days.
Ngā tamariki anō hoki, ka whakatōpu whakaaro i te rā o muri

As the mic wandered up and down the aisle,
I a te pika e rere ana i te muri ki mua o te pahi

Going from one to another
E rere ana i tēnā ki te tēnā o mātou

Thoughts revealed in easy comfort
Noho pai ai ngā whakaaro

As they share their spiritual experience
I a rātou e kōrero ana mō te rongo o te wiarua

At long last we have reached the Whakatōhea Rohe.
Ka roa hoki engari kua kitea te rohe o Te Whakatōhea

Danny points out a couple of reserves
Ka tohua e Danny ētahi rāhui

Including and adjacent to Matekorepu
Tae noa ki te whenua kei tua o Matekerepu

That will be returned to us.
Ka whakahokia mai ki a mātou

No karakia on the buses as time is growing late
Kāre he karakia i runga i ngā paki kua tō te rā

Our drivers will need to return to Tauranga
Me hoki ngā taraiwa ki tauranga rā anō

The karakia covering their last leg of the journey also,
Ka toro te karakia ki a rāua e hoki ana

As they would not have us to keep them awake and amused.
I te mea kāre he tangata hei whakangahau i a rāua

Yay, we are home.
Īē, kua hoki mai ki te kāinga

We disembark
Ka heke mātou

Scramble in the dark for our luggage
Haere kāpō noa atu ki te tiki i ngā tūeke

Bid the drivers farewell and wish them well
Ka poroporoākī i ngā taraiwa

Climb into our waiting vehicles
Ka eke i o mātou waka

We are off to our homes
Kua hoki ki ō mātou kāinga

Thank you, our tattooed angels, for a faultless Hīkoi.
E mihi ana, kei ngā māreikura, kei ngā whatukura, kua hoki pai mai i te hīkoi.

Mihi

The past three days have been all about

“Whanaungatanga”

“Hapu Tanga”

“Iwi Tanga”

My tribute to the journey.

My thoughts with those who wanted to go but couldn’t,
My thoughts with those who effused to want to.
Amene, Amene, Amene.

Muriel Ngahiwi Smith Kelly

Thanks to
Kate Adams for the photography and Paora Brosnan for the translation

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