Te Whare Makatea enhancing Mātauranga Māori
Enhancing Mātauranga Māori the mission of a Whakatāne event
Matariki and medicine are just some of the many topics that will be discussed at a three-day symposium being held for experts in Mātauranga Māori, known as tohunga.
‘Te Whare Makatea’ symposium, being held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne on
4-6 November 2022 aims to demonstrate how mātauranga Māori and mātauranga o te ao are utilised to meet the many and varied needs of their communities.
Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi is an Indigenous tertiary education provider that offers programmes from entry-level foundational courses through to doctorates.
The event is being led by Tā Hirini Moko Mead and Tā Pou Temara, two of the leading mātauranga experts at Awanuiārangi, who are looking forward to supporting the enhancement of knowledge for the benefit of tohunga and their communities.
Tā Hirini says that Awanuiārangi is pleased to host a conference that brings these knowledge holders of mātauranga Māori together to share ideas, plan for the future, and build a picture of what the tohunga of the future would look like.
Tā Pou says the symposium’s name, Te Whare Makatea, is also an historic Māori expression for the house of a tohunga, and a metaphor for a special kind of knowledge that highlights mātauranga Māori as its imperative.
“It lost usage when the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 was implemented. We have given it life in the past 10 years with the training of modern tohunga. The modern tohunga will be entrenched in mātauranga Māori. That knowledge will be further enhanced by the great knowledge of the world and the environment that the tohunga will operate in, whereas the tohunga of our past were limited to their Māori world.”
History tells us that the tohunga was the go-to person of a hapū for all kinds of problems that included healing the sick and giving sound advice. The tohunga advised the chief; the chief implemented the advice.
“Tohunga were the experts who helped the people maintain a balance between the human world and the spiritual world. They were called upon to play a leading role in carrying out the rituals of life and required to recite the ritual chants of the Māori world,” Tā Hirini says.
Keynote addresses include Professor Rangi Mātaamua with “Ko Matariki Ahu Atu” (Matariki and Beyond), Dr. Enoka Murphy on “Karakia vs. Prayer”. Dr. Te Aro Moxom will also talk about tohunga and medicine, and Mataia Keepa will address the challenges of being a young tohunga in an authoritarian iwi.
Awanuiārangi Chief Executive, Professor Wiremu Doherty, says it’s a privilege to host tohunga in Whakatāne for such an esteemed event.
“It is such a thrill to be in the presence of this depth of mātauranga Māori. Being able to gather and
share knowledge enhances the wellbeing and mana of hapū, and it is a privilege to be able to facilitate this at Awanuiārangi.”
Tā Pou adds the influence of the modern tohunga is already being felt, and events such as this further prepares the tohunga to be a go-to person for the hapū.
“They are leading their iwi in initiatives like innovative methods of teaching te reo, presiding over wānanga and schools of learning for different age groups of their communities, encouraging the learning of iwi and hapū histories and traditions and spotlighting a way forward in a world full of challenges that will test the very legitimacy of their Māori world."
“We are also thrilled to see people who were once students that we taught, stepping out of our shadows and coming back years later to tell us what they have achieved and sharing newfound knowledge.”