- Malcolm Paterson
Ko Te Wai o Pareira te awa
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
My family home growing up was in Te Atatū Peninsula, between my marae of Reweti (near Muriwai) and Ōrākei, in the midst of my tribal rohe. Like many who identify as Ngāti Whātua of Tāmaki and south Kaipara, I also have tūpuna that link me to the other west Auckland iwi of Te Kawerau a Maki
– as there has been much intermarriage between us over the centuries.
Despite this, my early childhood wasn’t steeped in traditional learning or practices around Te Wai o Pareira.
TAT Nth (as it was in the early 1980s when I was at primary school) was a bit rough around the edges. Still, as a small boy there was a ‘freedom to roam’ that my wife and I might hesitate to offer to the same degree now to our going on seven year old (I’m not sure whether that reflects any actual greater risk to free-ranging kids forty years later, simply generational differences in societal parenting expectations, or either greater nervousness – or dare I wonder, common-sense - than my parents and those of my little mates displayed ‘back in the day’).
My best friend lived near the river-end of Taipari Rd and I would frequently bike over from Neil Ave to see him and his larger, more boistrous family. We’d ride for hours over the peninsula – not infrequently exploring the banks of the creek. Rubbish then, as now - but perhaps more brazenly and with greater ‘social licence’, used to get dumped on the margins of the water ... treasure for little boys! A box of illustrated fact sheets about WWII planes was surely our best score ever ...
As I moved into young adulthood my understanding of, and interest in, my ancestral ties to the area increased, and my activities around the awa reflected this. A highlight was the first time kayaking up-river to Henderson to get a sense of how the tūpuna used the creek as a transport link between the Waitematā and inland sites. Since then an excursion by runabout to Rangitōpuni (Riverhead) has let me experience the traditional route from the mouth of Te Wai o Pareira and the upper Waitematā to that portage (from where you can carry on to south Kaipara and my community there).
Different times, different world – and now my two tama have only ever known their centuries-old ties to where they are growing up. We’ve boated up-river, tied up and walked the last little way to their puna reo (Māori language early childhood education centre). We look out every day on our awa and harbour, and if we wander down to the bottom of the garden we have our ancestral landmarks revealed to us - Te Matarae a Mana (Kauri Pt), Ōnewa (Northcote Pt), Maungakiekie ... although the little one still likes the Sky Tower the best!
Ko mātou te awa
Ko te awa ko mātou