Makaawhio whānau at the Kaiapoi monument

After postponing our hīkoi several times, we finally set out from Hokitika on Friday 20 January at 8am on a 50-seater bus. A group of 30 intrepid explorers started what was to be an incredible journey, aiming to take participants on a journey back to our Waitaha links and to draw attention to some of the everyday things we see that are of historical significance.

We visited wāhi tapu on Te Tai o Poutini and were reacquainted with kā tapuae o kā tīpuna (the footsteps of our ancestors) and the journey that brought us here. We travelled from Te Tai o Poutini to Kaiapoi pā, where Riki Pitama and his whānau spent time with us. Tēnā koutou, nā koutou i ārahi, i manaaki hoki i a mātou e takahi ana i te pā tawhito. He hereka ki te whenua, he hereka whakapapa hoki. E kore kā mihi e mutu!

We were really grateful to our Taumutu whānau who stayed to welcome us, despite our extremely late arrival! Ngāti Moki, Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki, tēnā koutou, kā tohuka o te manaaki!

Up with the birds and after a visit to pay our respects at the urupā, we headed across to Wairewa, where we spent the night. A trip over to Ōnuku created a bit of stir at the marae, when a busload of Māori descended on the kaik. Whānau at the marae welcomed us on with a pōwhiri and cuppa. He mihi aroha ki a rātou, i mutu tā rātou hui ki te pōwhiri i a mātou. Tēnā rawa atu koutou!

Our visit to Ōnawe was a challenge for the bus and for our whānau! However, it was worth the hīkoi and proved the perfect place to learn about the pā and its kōrero.

Before leaving Wairewa the next morning we visited Tangata Hara and the urupā to pay our respects to our whānau buried there and notably it was the first time we encountered rain! An appropriate sign as we turned our waka back towards Te Tai o Poutini. It was a wonderful weekend!

Our thanks to Paul Madgwick and our wonderful bus driver Steven McLaren. Thanks also to everyone who participated. We will be planning to repeat this journey, as there are still many more stories to learn, but potentially not until 2014!

Nā Susan Wallace.