Spectrum 409. A feeling for the forest - part 1

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Tono kōrero mai

Spectrum was a long-running weekly radio documentary series which captured the essence of New Zealand from 1972 to 2016. Alwyn Owen and Jack Perkins produced the series for many years, creating a valuable library of New Zealand oral history

This programme is part 1 of a 2 part Spectrum documentary. [Part 2 is Spectrum 412]
Tawhao Tioke holds the forest in deep respect - and no wonder, for his boyhood was spent in the rugged Urewera district where he learnt the forest lore of the Ngāi Tūhoe people. He shows Alwyn Owen the extent of that resource, and tells of his own attitude to the bush and to things Māori.

Tawhao Tioke takes Alwyn Owen to a forest in the eastern flanks of the Hutt valley or Awakairangi. Tawhao has a branch of māhoe to show Alwyn Owen. Tawhao says that the berries of the māhoe were one of the things used to create moko. He also has a nūtara fungus which grows primarily on rata trees. Charcoals from the nūtara fungus were also mixed in to the ink. Tawhao talks about a fungi that grows on the tawai tree, which is dried and used to start fires. He says in wet weather the supplejack is the only wood that will be dry enough to get a fire going.

Alwyn Owen points out a tutu plant. Tawhao says they are used to clean the stomach, but must be used correctly. Tawhao was poisoned once, not knowing how to use the tutu berry safely. They discuss two elephants that were killed after eating tutu berries.

Tawhao Tioke was born in the forest. His father was a tohunga Ringatū. As a child Tawhao learned about rongoā while collecting supplies for his family.

Tawhao talks about the significance of genealogy or whakapapa. A value for whakapapa was instilled in him by his grandfather. Tawhao was given his name in remembrance of a battle that took place in his village.

Alwyn Owen points out a raureka. Tawhao says that the linked species manono is the one with a medicinal quality. The manono bark is peeled, boiled and applied to wounds. Tawhao talks about the use of a nikau frond, which was perfectly curved to fit a leg or an arm.

Tawhao and Alwyn discuss the kawakawa tree, which is used in rongoā and as a tea. Tawhao says you must only pick from the side where the sun rises.

They talk about tohunga, and what it means to be a tohunga. Tawhao says he is not a tohunga, he is a minister. Tawhao speaks in te reo to show how a tohunga might introduce their work when healing mate māori. Tawhao Tioke recalls being healed by a tohunga in Waimana as a child.

Tawhao talks about becoming a Christian, and his desire to work for John George Laughton, a missionary in Tūhoe at the time. He talks about an incident with Reverend Purewa Biddle at a marae in Rūātoki that taught him about the meeting point of Christianity and tikanga Māori.

The broadcast ends with a message from Alwyn Owen warning listeners not to experiment with the tutu plant, as it is highly poisonous.

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Year 1982

Reference number 21524

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Presenter
Tioke, Tawhao, 1920-2009, Speaker/Kaikōrero

Duration 00:27:42

Date 1982

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