Education in Wairau to benefit from local cultural narrative

Ancestral stories of local iwi will help to underpin the future education of Marlborough youth following the publication of a cultural narrative by four Wairau iwi.

A Bohally Intermediate School ākonga (student) reads Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho
A Bohally Intermediate School ākonga (student) reads Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho. Photo: Melissa Banks

Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho is a collection of significant stories that have been handed down through generations of Wairau families and is aimed at activating and strengthening students’ understanding of iwi narratives, cultural constructs and concepts embedded through te ao Māori through the eyes of Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Kuia and Rangitāne o Wairau.


The iwi developed the collection to support Te Tātoru o Wairau – the project relocating of Bohally Intermediate School and co-location of Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges – and presented it to their partners in the project at Canvastown’s Te Hora Pā on Friday 17 June – the 182nd anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Te Whanganui/Port Underwood.


Iwi spokesperson Dr Peter Meihana says the stories symbolise the relationship iwi have with the environment and their concept of mauri (life force).


“Our relationships with the physical and spiritual world are integral to our identity as a people,” Dr Meihana says.

“The Wairau Valley is of national and international significance. Woven through the fabric of the landscapes that surround us are the enduring narratives of those who have gone before us, those who walk among us and those who will walk in their footsteps.”


“Our ancestors undertook the act of taunahanaha (claiming and naming) of significant geographical features and natural phenomena, then incorporated them into pūrākau (oral traditions), waiata (songs) and karakia (incantations), ensuring that information was remembered and made accessible,” Dr Meihana says.

The Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary (Infrastructure and Digital) Scott Evans, and Director of Education (Nelson, Marlborough West Coast) Andrea Williams, celebrate the publication of Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho with iwi representatives Johnny Joseph (Ngāti Toa Rangatira), Michelle Lavender (Ngāti Rārua), Waihaere Mason (Ngāti Kuia) and Dr Peter Meihana (Rangitāne o Wairau) at Te Hora Pa, Canvastown
The Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary (Infrastructure and Digital) Scott Evans, and Director of Education (Nelson, Marlborough West Coast) Andrea Williams, celebrate the publication of Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho with iwi representatives Johnny Joseph (Ngāti Toa Rangatira), Michelle Lavender (Ngāti Rārua), Waihaere Mason (Ngāti Kuia) and Dr Peter Meihana (Rangitāne o Wairau). Photo: Melissa Banks.

Ministry of Education project director for Te Tātoru o Wairau, Simon Trotter says the tāonga was developed early in the design phase of the three kura and will influence outcomes and decisions made throughout Te Tātoru o Wairau.


“By embracing Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho, we will collectively ensure this investment delivers school facilities that reflect the local histories and context and support equitable outcomes for future generations of Wairau ākonga,” Mr Trotter says.


“This taonga will underpin everything that we all are hoping to achieve with this project for future generations of tamariki, through the collaborative development of regional solutions,” Mr Trotter says.


Te Tātoru o Wairau is one of the largest capital works projects undertaken by the Ministry of Education, and is a major investment in the future of Marlborough’s intermediate and secondary education. The project is currently in the master planning phase, with design of the three kura expected to begin at the end of 2022.


Group of people gather outside at Te Hora Pā in Canvastown
The presentation of Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho to Te Tātoru o Wairau at Canvastown's Te Hora Pā took place on the 182nd anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Te Whanganui/Port Underwood. Photo: Melissa Banks.

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Te Tatoru o Wairau Cultural Narrative
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