Spectrum 412. A feeling for the forest - part 2

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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 2 of a 2 part Spectrum documentary. [Part 2 is Spectrum 409]

The episode begins with a brief introduction to Tawhao Tioke, Ngāi Tūhoe kaumatua and an ordained Presbyterian minister who was born in the forests of Te Urewera. This is the second part of a programme in which Tawhao speaks to Alwyn Owen in a forest in the Hutt Valley of Wellington. Tawhao shares his knowledge of the forest, the uses of different plants, and the significance of the forest to Ngāi Tūhoe.

Tawhao speaks about the hinau berry, which is used in Tūhoe to make bread. He says that in order to make the dough you would need to collect 20-30 baskets. The wood of the hinau is ideal for creating troughs for food processing because it doesn’t smell. The berries kernel-and-all are thrown in the trough and everything is mixed with water and honey overnight. The bread is wrapped with young mauku leaf and put in the hāngī. The bark of the hinau tree is used as a black dye.

Alwyn and Tawhao speak about the miro berry. Tawhao says that a chicken stuffed with miro berries tastes like a kererū.

According to Tawhao, the tawa was one of the most widely used trees in Tūhoe in the early days. In early December the berries are ripe. Boiled with water and sugar, Tawhao says they make a very good refreshment. The seed is washed and dried in the sun. Tawhao says it becomes like a Tūhoe coffee, or is cooked in a hāngī and becomes like a potato. These things are not done anymore, but are still talked about.

Tawhao points out what is called teure in Tūhoe and patanga in Ngāpuhi, and which comes from the kiekie plant. He says it is like a banana when ripe. The tāwhara is the flower of the plant, which holds a very sweet substance around May and June. Tawhao knots the flowers of the plant to stop the birds eating it. Tawhao says the forest feeds us, so it’s important that we care for it.

Tawhao speaks about retrieving bark from the eastern side of the rata tree for a tohunga who was healing a sick person. He speaks about the loss of this lady’s knowledge, as she didn’t pass her rongoā knowledge to anyone.

Alwyn and Tawhao come across a rimu. Tawhao says that in the early days Tūhoe were afraid of kēhua. He tells a story that is the origins of the whakataukī “Rūrea taitea kia toitū ko taikākā”. He speaks of two other whakataukī; “He pukepuke maunga e pikitia e te tangata, he pukepuke moana ekengia e te waka. He mana tangata tihi tangata e kore ekengia e te tangata. He tapu, he tapū, he tapū” and “He puāwaitanga harakere, he rito whakakīngia whāruarua.”

Tawhao speaks of the significance of the forest to Tūhoe people. He says that the Tūhoe who live in the cities strongly desire to spend time in the bush. He says Tūhoe in the city are different to other Māori in the city. He says that the bush in which they are speaking is important to him, as he is not often home in Te Urewera. He often brings his nine year old grandson to this place to learn about the forest.

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Year 1982

Reference number 21527

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

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

Duration 00:28:15

Date 1982