Pūkaeaea tohe nihorau
Kei te wānangananga i te pō
Kei te wānangananga i te ao
Nei ra ko te rau aroha e mihi atu nei

Ko Mere Te Rau Aroha Hata-Huata tōku ingoa
Ko ōku whenua taurikura kei runga o Omarumutu me Waioweka.

I te taha o tōku tupuna kuia a Rawinia Rangi heke iho ki tōku kuia a Te Aroha Hata (nee Rangi) kātahi ki tōku Whaea a Mereaira Hata
Ko Makeo te maunga
Ko Waiaua te awa
Ko Ngāti Rua te hapū
Ko Tutamure te tangata
Ko Irapuaia te whare tupuna
Ko Te Whakatōhea te iwi

I te taha o tōku Koroua a Porena Hata heke iho kia James (Jim) Te Waiwhakaruku Hata kātahi ki tōku Whaea a Mereaira Hata
Ko Mātītī te maunga
Ko Waioweka te awa
Ko Ngāti Ira te hapū
Ko Hira-te-pōpō te tangata
Ko Tutamure te whare tupuna
Ko Te Whakatōhea te iwi

I’ve had the privilege of being raised amongst our Waikato whānau under the guidance of our late Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu and our Kīngi Tuheitia at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia. I went to school at Te Wharekura Kaupapa Māori o Rakaumangamanga in Huntly and graduated as Head (Girl) Prefect in 2009. There, I was fortunate enough to be taught under the watchful eye of Rāhui Papa and Kirimaaku Kihi, teachers who inspired me to become a teacher myself. I later went on to Waikato University to study a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Te Reo Māori & Tikanga. I have also been a member of our iwi Kapa Haka Group Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti taught by our very own Te Kahautu Maxwell and Anameka Pirini for the last 8 years. I am now a teacher at the Raroera Campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa educating adults who aim to achieve a Certificate in Te Ara Reo Māori – (He pī ka rere) Level 2.

My aspirations for Te Whakatōhea is to establish our own Wharekura from the age of 5 to 18 years old. My Grandparents left Opotiki in search of education for our whānau. Me my brothers and cousin were fortunate enough to go to a Wharekura ourselves the experience is evident and affected us positively throughout our lives. A Wharekura that aims on building our future generations to come. A place where our tamariki and mokopuna can go to daily to learn about our own histories, our Hāhi Ringatū, our own methodologies and preserve our traditional teachings, life skills and all trades as a platform into educating ourselves to grow socially and economically as an iwi. Once that is thriving the ultimate goal would be to expand onto a Kōhanga Reo under the same umbrella and eventually a Whare Wānanga of our own.

I would like to see more incentives from Te Whakatōhea Trust Board to help encourage all our whānau to keep legally safe on our roads. Iwi membership discounts on all licenses and Defensive Driving Courses if you’re registered with Te Whakatōhea Roll to help increase marketing and networking opportunities for iwi members and The Trust Board just a whakaaro.

Perhaps a “Te Tohekura Rangatahi o Te Whakatōhea” open to all our Rangatahi from all hapū within Te Whakatōhea. A forum where our taiohi voices are heard. A place where we can come together to research, to learn, to teach, share and utilize the skills we have amongst our own. Create our own framework networking with our own and finding Govt Funded Contracts that can help teach us to financially secure ourselves using what positive influences we already have within our iwi. For example; our Horse Sports whānau cousin Chase and his wahine with the holiday programmes, cousin Awhina Kūrei and our Kūrei Fitness whānau, our two iwi Kapa Haka Groups Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti and Waioweka. A rangatahi iwi forum where we can come together to wānanga. Not a place where one person rules applies instead a place of unity for our rangatahi to create a framework we can share our ideas, share our talents and share our experiences we can use as a waka of empowerment to contribute towards Te Whakatōhea for future generations to come.

Last but not least student support, qualified student support for our whānau who are impaired physically or mentally. The shape of what this support looks like should be an endless pool of learning opportunity for both the person affected and the wider community. Raising awareness around normalising this support regardless which generation you are from (pēpī, rangatahi, mātua kaumatua) but most importantly being opened minded to the idea of it. This support is crucial for people like myself, not very many people are aware I am partially deaf, sign language was my world, body language is my world, the methodology I use to communicate with the outside world is through my Māori world, it is easy to misunderstand people like myself especially if you are closed minded. This is the gap that we need to fill simply having the RIGHT teachers is a crucial matter, teachers who are experienced enough to know the struggles we have to adapt to. My world isn’t the same as your world, it isn’t something ‘normal’ people can understand in a day, not unless they themselves are personally affected by these issues. This is an area our whānau and our iwi need to highlight. The minority is just as important as the majority. Actions need to be more powerful than words. Having this support changes people’s lives and I believe it can help close the gap between normal people and mentally or physically impaired people. This is another reason why moving home isn’t an option for me for now but with the right support that could possibly change.

To me this screams pride, it makes me feel proud to be from Te Whakatōhea. We are blessed to have whenua and kōrero tuku iho that is rich with depth and mana. Our surroundings and our ties to our lands or whenua tohu makes us unique as an iwi. We need to preserve these tāonga for future generations so it flourishes in health only then will the wealth of our people be stronger than ever before. I love being from Opotiki, Te Whakatōhea there is no place quite like home.

“Tohea te tohe o te tohe nihorau kia pai te whāngai atu ki ō eweewe mo te hemo noa atu.”

“Let our Indigenous voices be herd so we can contribute towards our future for generations to come.”

-Mere Hata-Huata