9 Nov 2017

'We are never going to let the memories of our unique tribe fade'

7:49 pm on 9 November 2017

A new book that tells the stories of Rotorua iwi Ngāti Wāhiao and the people's connection to Te Whakarewarewatanga-o-te-ope-tauā-ā-Wāhiao has finally gone to print and its creators hope it will guide future generations to understand where they are from and who they are.

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Aerial view of Pohutu geyser, as published in the book. Photo: Supplied

Wāhiao - The People of Whakarewarewa, written by Marian Mare and Aloma Parker, captures the history of the Whakarewarewa Valley situated in the heart of an active geothermal landscape in Rotorua.

In 2013 the Whakarewarewa Valley was the subject of a land settlement dispute that saw Wāhiao representatives gather historic research to prove their right to the land.

Grace Hoet, of Wāhiao descent, said after the arbitration the Wāhiao people were left with mounds of valuable historic records and it was suggested the documents be collated into a book.

"We had big giant boxes full of information after the hearings and it sat there and we looked at it and thought, we've got all of this beautiful information, we need to do something with it."

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The hapū of Wāhiao, 1900 (crop). Photo: Supplied

Ms Hoet said the book spoke particularly to people of Wāhiao, but also captured the unique essence of Whakarewara for people who may have never seen or walked through the valley before.

"You can walk through it and quite easily step back 100 years. The book is very much capturing a time gone by but we still bathe in the baths, we still cook our kai in the ground there in the steam boxes.

"The essence is still alive and the traditions are still held and the same families, just a younger generation, are walking the whenua."

Wāhiao descendant Donna Hall said the book will enable the identity of the tribe to live on forever.

"It will be a flag if you like, a flag of resistance, to say we are not going to accept that our days are doomed and we're all over. We are never going to let the memories of our unique tribe fade."

She said there has never been a resource about Whakarewarewa in such detail before.

"Sociology, history, law, is all combined into one united effort and of course, we have the families in there as well contributing to the stories."

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