WE ARE WAITAHA
UNTIL NOW WE HAVE HIDDEN OUR BEGINNINGS, and all that followed, in the shadows. In this way we protected our knowledge in the silence of the Whare Wananga, the School of Learning of Waitaha.
Tuatara, the Keeper of Knowledge, guards the trails to the realms of mind and spirit that give us life. We lead you past Tuatara, our ever vigilant kaitiaki [guardian], and invite you to share the words and wisdom of our ancestors. For it has been decided it is time for our treasures to be brought into the light.
Ruia, Ruia, Ruia nga kakano i Ruia mai Rangi Atea... We do this for the children, and their children, and all who call this land home.
With these words we begin to tell for the first time the sacred Histories of the peoples of the Nation of Waitaha. Once we were like the sands upon the beaches, a great multitude who knew these shores. Now we are few, but we take courage from the taonga [treasures] we still hold, because we have kept intact the most ancient songs of the ancestors.
Waitaha is older than old. Much of their history of this land is our history. We kept safe the knowledge of the Tides of Life that flow from Marama, the Moon.
Our Star Walkers joined the stars to the land. Our Water Seeekers explored the rivers and tested their waters, and the remotest mountains knew the tread of their feet. Our Water Carriers planted kumara vines to clothe the nakedness of Papataunuku [ the Earth Mother]. Our Stone Shapers brought Pounamu [Greenstone] to the peoples of this land and others beyond the distant horizons. Our Sea Gardeners nurtured the many children of Tangaroa [God of Seas, Rivers and Lakes].
We are of Tane Mahuta [God of Birds, Trees and People], and we follow Rongo Marae Roa, the God of Peace.
''AND A PROPHECY WAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE...' WE CAME TO AOTEA ROA TO NURTURE THE LAND and walk in peace. And we followed the gentle ways of Rongo Marae Roa down the ages and sheltered the kete [basket] that held the sacred songs of our ancestors. There was joy in the land from generation to generation and then came the deepest sorrow.
Strange sails took shape before the wind and Tu Ma Tauenga [God of War] visited the land with his vengeful warriors. We did not take up weapons, for that is not our way, but in the strength of our minds we stood against them offering healing where there was pain and returning kindness for anger.
And the Fires of War seared the land. And our tupuna [ancestors] looked behind the rising waves of pain and out to the stars, and in words of the blinding prophecy proclaimed...
'Walk in the shadows, hide in the waters, move in the mists, step behind the rainbow to save the taonga [treasures]. Protect our ancestors. Hold the truth close and warm it with brave hearts, for pain will consume the land and the circle of our dreams will be broken. And all will seem lost beyond recall.
Kia kaha! Be strong! And the day will come when the taonga will be revealed once more. And we will walk tall with the knowledge in the kete and find joy in the colours of the rainbow. And the fires of truth will burn into the hearts of all the people of the land. And they will find the trails of gentleness and peace.
Kahuri te Ao... the world turns. And the circle of our dreamtime takes a new shape for a new dawn. And people of all colours join to bind what was broken and live in hope.'
In answer to these words we kept the Histories safe within the Whare Wananga. We protected the kete with our lives. We guarded them behind the walls of silence. We placed them in the care of Tuatara, Keeper of the Gates to Knowledge.
Until now we have said nothing when others wrote our Histories for us and brought error to the paths of truth. And while it became their truth, it was not ours. We held our counsel when our ancestress [Hotu Matua], who charted the long ocean trails, emerged from the pages as a man [Kupenga]. We smiled when brave Captain Cook was first to bring the potato to these shores [it is from South America]. We sat quietly as the names of Waitaha, Rapuwai and Tu Mata Kokiri drifted out of our memory. And by our silence we protected the sacred kete and waited in the shadows.
Now the day has arrived for the people of the Nation of Waitaha to open the Kete of Knowledge to everyone. The time of sharing is upon us, and a prophecy is fulfilled, because what was written was foretold. That hand that moves knows a wairua [spirit] warmed in ancient days and entrusted with old wisdom. It merely writes what is already spoken for there is nothing new in the Universe.
Know that our truth and your truth may not be the same. We all have our own journey to make and many are the trails that lead to wisdom. We place our sacred Histories before you in the hope of fostering mutual trust and understanding. There is no greater gift we can give to the people of this land. These are our greatest treasures. Know what is given.
pages 11-12 Song of Waitaha