Te Ahumairangi Hill: Kaitiakitanga VS. Misguided Maintenance

Whānau, I want to tell you all a story;

Every week, my Bro from work and I journey up our local ‘maunga’ (“peak”), Te Ahumairangi Hill, with probably the coolest and most enlightened bunch of ‘tamariki’ (“kids”) you’ll ever meet.

They’re legit as fuck.  Especially when you consider they’re literally only three and four years old.

A couple of weeks ago, our little “kōhanga crew” started noticing the many council-contracted maintenance workers who were up there clearing the tracks for the upcoming spring-summer (*peak) walking season, and thus tending to the many slips and fallen debris our poor maunga has endured this winter.

Of course they had their machines and their tools with them, and our tamariki edged past these tentatively, rushing further up the track in an effort to return to the serenity and the silence of the place that we have all come to know with intimacy since our journey began in February of this year.

Bar the birdsong, obviously.  Kākā parrots are the main contributors, playful and ever-screeching as we ascend slowly to our special space, our very own “summit” away from the exposed, vehicle-friendly ‘Ridgeline Track’, and further back into the bird-friendly bushline – a deliberate effort to remain in the forest, and to therefore foster a deep(er) sense of connection with our Māori ‘kaitiaki o te ngahere’ (“celestial guardian of the forest and all forest creatures”), Tāne-mahuta.

One particular day – a moment from this most recent time period – is currently – powerfully – etched in my memory.

On our travels, we passed by a ‘mamaku’ (“fern”) that had had some precious adult branches “tended to” in an apparent effort to trim back some foliage from the track…

And, there was trauma seeping from every single wound.

So, our little group of adventurers stopped to assess and appraise the situation.  One of our ‘tikanga’ (“practices”) whenever we’re walking our maunga is to never, ever pick from ‘tipu’ (“plants”), but to always gather our ‘taonga’ (“treasure(s)”, or “thing(s) of value” (*relative to you/them)) from the track – the very bosom of our Earth Māmā, Papatūānuku.

And here, right in front of us, was our ‘why’.

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Te Ahumairangi Hill: History, Majesty, And Māoriness

*Nov ’16 (update): Since writing this (*02/16), I’ve spent a substantial chunk of time familiarising myself with the many metaphorical veins and arteries that comprise Te Ahumairangi’s inner track system.  Basically, I favour a specific route these days, and simply wanted to add that here.

I’ve abandoned the Waterworks end as a start-point, and tend to enter at/on the Harriett Street side.  I follow the Northern Walkway, Southern Connector, get on to the Loop Walk (*and “drive-by” the tunnel and quarry), jump back on to the Northern Walkway, and return the same way I came in.

So essentially, I travel from one end of the Hill to the other, and back again – albeit via slightly different altitudes.

Have a go…

#TheBombDotCom.


We have a saying (*also a much-loved and revered song) at the Māori language pre-school that I work at to describe our profound, collective sense of kinship towards our local landscape:

“Te Ahumairangi te maunga,

Continue reading “Te Ahumairangi Hill: History, Majesty, And Māoriness”