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Te Wairoa, Te Kāinga Tahi

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In late 2019, Morehu Monro began a housing research project in Te Wairoa, a small town in the north of the Hawke’s Bay region of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Over a four week period he talked with people at marae, at meetings with local organisations, and during visits with whānau and kaumātua who had always lived in Te Wairoa and those who had returned. He also reflected on his own father’s return journey to Te Wairoa. The survey group wanted to improve the way they lived so as to benefit whānau, hapū, and marae. The question was, “what did this improvement look like?” What emerged from these wide-ranging conversations was the importance of ahi kaa—keeping the home fires burning—and the need to revisit understandings of ahi kaa e morehu ana, ahi kaa haere atu hoki mai, and ahi kaa moe mate (those who remain, those who return, those who are here but chose not to participate). Each is described here. The team, if funded, hopes to gather information in collaboration with iwi and hapū over the next two years. Perhaps this is the time to amend our “tikanga”; certainly it’s time to re-connect with our marae and our traditional ways. Tradition is “best work process” at that time, so don’t hang on to tradition, adapt and evolve; but make sure that “best work practice” is an improvement on your traditional ways and fits “tikanga”.

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