Updated: Jan 11
My name is Makere Jenner. I’ve recently begun work on the Tū Mai Taonga project and I’d like to tell you why.
A couple of years ago, our young family packed our lives into a few suitcases and moved halfway across the world to live on tiny Rangiahua - one of the Broken Islands off the west coast of Aotea. Despite the many challenges this has presented, it has been totally worth it.
The north end of Rangiahua takes in a breath-taking view of the Broken Island chain and on a clear day the Mokohinau group shines in the far distance. It looks like paradise, and in many ways, it is. But over the past couple of years I have learned that Aotea as a whole was once a vastly different place. My kaumātua recall the old days when the northern bush was bursting with life and bird song. Now, they lament the silent greeting they receive when they walk those old tracks. The Broken Islands were once filled with large seabird colonies populating these rugged oases -the night sky was filled with the sounds of clouds of seabirds coming home. Now, most are honeycombed with abandoned burrows, leaving only one or two islands that still provide safe nesting. Mokohinau in the north was once a thriving ancestral hunting ground but is now a sanctuary for recovering seabird colonies that can no longer breed successfully here on Aotea because of relentless predation by feral cats and rats.
Now that I have this sense of what has been lost, I can’t gaze out at this picturesque land- and seascape without feeling a sense of responsibility; a sense of kaitiakitanga. So I have recently joined the Tū Mai Taonga project for a chance to restore what has been lost.
As exciting as it is, I know that taking this chance and making the most of it will require resilience. Fortunately, we islanders have that in spades. Resilience is essential on Rangiahua and on greater Aotea, where the sun, wind and tide are major factors in determining each day’s course. We roll with the punches and are often at odds with nature but we are also heavily dependent on it. For my part, I believe that I ought to be a resilient caregiver - a kaitiaki. I long for the birds to come home to Aotea and fill our ngahere once again with song and help mend all the ‘broken’ islands of Aotea. I know that this will be hard work. My experience is that anything worthwhile always is.
Tū Mai Taonga is a community-led project that aims to restore what has been lost. To find out more, visit tumaitaonga.nzor contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org