Tag Archives: Maori

The People of the Sea

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My oldest grandson is a mix of a lot of ethnicities–he is, on one half–Maori, Tongan, Hawaiian, Chinese, Samoan with traces of Fijian and on the other half a European mix from Norway to the Netherlands. His name reflects this mixture, influenced by his Maori, Samoan, Scottish and Tongan ancestors. But it is the name that we are called the most that truly becomes who we are and how we think of ourselves. His name is Ngatiwai. His paternal grandmother, who is Maori, suggested that name, it being the name of her tribe, Ngāti Wai, or the “People of the Sea”.

From Te Ara we learn that “Ngāti Wai are descended from Manaia (the captain of the Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi or Ruakaramea canoe) and his people Ngāti Manaia, and are another earlwhangaruru harbory Whāngārei tribe. The history of Ngāti Wai is intimately connected with the coastal waters. The tribe’s name comes from a tradition at Manawahuna, a cave beneath Motu Kōkako, where priests would foretell their fortunes from the way water (wai) passed through the cave. Well known as coastal raiders and traders, Ngāti Wai have links to ancestors from Whangaroa in the north to Tāmaki (Auckland) in the south, and eastward to Little Barrier and Great Barrier islands where Ngāti Rehua, a sub-tribe of Ngāti Wai, settled. Today, most of the tribe live north and south of Whāngārei, and are interspersed with other coastal groups such as Ngāti Kahu, Te Whānauwhero, Te Ākitai and Te Panupuha.” http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/whangarei-tribes/page-2

In December, Ngatiwai’s younger brother, one-year-old Neeson spent two weeks with his paternal grandparents visiting his great-grandparents who still live on coastal tribal lands in Northland, New Zealand. In the distant past Ngāti Wai traded seafood up and down the coast, interspersed with the occasional raid.

December is summer in the Southern Hemisphere with temperatures in Whangaruru ranging from the mid-fifties at night to the upper seventies during the day. While Ngatiwai was bundled up for a Utah winter Neeson spent his two weeks in Whangaruru running around in a t-shirt and eating seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ngatiwai and his little sister Ngaio have also spent time in Whangaruru before Neeson was born. Memories that will forever keep them tied to their Maori roots.

northland fish

There is a special feeling about the land your ancestors lived on–a connection that is hard to define. Rock is rock and sand is sand, right? True, until you stand on land that was there hundreds of years before and someone you share a bloodline with once lived there. Then you close your eyes and you can feel the connection, a sense of security in ancestral lines that transcends geology and testifies to a deeper truth–that this rock and this sand connects you to your people.

Ngatiwai may not yet understand the heritage that he carries or the responsibility that comes with the name he bears to represent his people. First grade is a time for friends and playing. But with grandparents and parents who teach him–someday he will come to feel that same connection with the land and the sea that have been the legacy of the Ngāti Wai for over a thousand years.

Susan Noanoa

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creation at dawn      Hawaiian Voyage

Creation at Dawn by Tom Kuali’i                                   Hawaiian Voyage by William Horak


Wallis and Futuna…A Polynesian Discovery

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Discovery in that, I find I am woefully ignorant of what makes up Polynesia. Polynesian Triangle? Check. Six largest cultures? Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Maori, Tahiti and Fiji. Check. And then there are the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Kiribas, Niue, Tuvalu and Pitcairn Island among many others. But I hadn’t heard of Wallis and Futuna until recently. Looks a lot like Samoa to me and actually they share weather characteristics like only needing one number for the temperature and the humidity — 80.

W&F islands

While the islands lie between Samoa and Fiji, the language and culture of Wallis are more closely related to Tonga while Futuna’s roots are more closely tied to Samoa. For some reason there is a bit of rivalry between the two cultures. There is a third main island, Alofi which is mostly uninhabited. While a source of fresh water is currently a problem it seems the Futunians took issue with the Alofians sometime in the nineteenth century and basically wiped them out. You might want to look up the method of disposal–would be great for your next trivia challenge.

This from polynesia.com:

Scientific evidence indicates Wallis, which is traditionally called Uvea, and Futuna — which are located between Samoa and Fiji — were historically settled over 2,000 years ago. About 500 years ago, marauding Tongans captured the islands and intermarried with the Polynesian people there.

British navigator Samuel Wallis discovered Uvea in 1767, but the islands have been under French administration since 1842. Today, about 9,500 Polynesians live on Wallis and about 5,000 on Futuna. A relatively large number of Wallisians also live in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, which was previously a French territory.

W&F islands stamp

And there you have it — a brief glimpse of Wallis and Futuna, ancient cultures of Polynesia — a new discovery for me, modern Polynesian.

Susan Noanoa


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3dolphins                          hypnotik shirt

Three Dolphins                                                  Hypnotik Aloha Shirt