He Kākano Ahau is a six-part podcast series commissioned for RNZ as part of the RNZ and NZ On Air Innovation Fund.
Writer, activist, and podcast host Kahu Kutia grew up in Waimana, a small community on the northern edge of Te Urewera. In a place where almost everyone is Ngāi Tūhoe, Kahu was able to learn the stories of her people and locate herself in the world.
In 2015 she moved to Te Whanganui-ā-Tara for university, and found herself questioning her understanding of what it means to be Māori. In an urban setting, Kahu found that a Māori identity was able to be defined in ways she had never considered before.
“I thought this journey would really be about confirming some basic assumptions that I already had. In fact, creating this podcast involved huge learning for me, and more than anything else it reminded me of the power of connection. Not just connection to your whakapapa, but connection between yourself and others, connection to the land beneath your feet, and the power that comes from a community.”
In the six episodes and one short video documentary Kahu sets out to find what connects us as Māori in the city. Her journey takes her between Tāmaki Makaurau, Ōtautahi, and Te Whanganui-ā-Tara. She could never have predicted the twists that would happen along the way. Some heartwarming; some heart breaking.
Whether it’s a journey through the (now destroyed) Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Manu Kōrero regionals in Te Waipounamu, or interviews from the front line at Ihumātao, He Kākano Ahau reaffirms that Te Ao Māori is thriving within every single one of us.