Last March I was watching the news on the television when a story came on about a ‘Pestival‘ (a pest festival would you believe!) in the small town of Picton.
The Pestival was run by a community group at the Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary, and had Gareth Morgan as guest speaker – coincidently it was not long after Gareth had the hit headlines regarding his Cats to Go campaign. Over 500 people came to this local event.
Little did I know that 12 months later I would be living in Picton, and would end up meeting the charismatic organisers of the second annual Pestival—Jenny Keene, Jo O’Connell and Chrissy Powlesland.
This time around I was determined to be a part of the event and to help make it even bigger and better than the previous year.
The Pestival is a uniquely kiwi, ‘heartland party’ to raise funds for Kaipupu Point, a predator fenced reserve located right next to the ferry terminals in Picton.
The Pestival also aims to raise awareness of pests and predators, and the focus is on what you can do in your backyard—whether it’s planting bird friendly trees, building weta houses, or learning how to trap.
The Raticators – Peter Hobson and Helen Crook
I have heard from locals who attended the Pestival last year that they were able to go away knowing the difference between a Norway rat and a ship rat, and which trap is the best one to use for a certain type of pest.
The day’s entertainment includes live music, food, local delicacies, environmental speakers, mini-workshops, conservation and trapping stalls, a market place, a pest contest, fancy dress prizes and a children’s programme.
Rat nibbling a sign
Visit Kaipupu Point
With natural ecosystems flourishing in an almost completely pest free environment, Kaipupu Point is well worth a visit. It’s open year-round and free for everyone to enjoy.
Pestival 2014 — Saturday 22 March
The second annual Pestival will be held on Saturday 22 March 2014 11 am—6 pm, at the Waitohi Domain, Picton.
Te Pūkenga Atawhai is a course run by DOC for the specific purpose of enlightening its staff about Māori, Māori issues, Māori culture/beliefs, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the proper (tika) ways in which to conduct yourself when you interact with tangata whenua – See in our line(s) of work, we deal with tangata whenua all the time.
The course is run by Pou Kura Taiao – Indigenous Conservation Ethics Managers, who among other roles are ‘cultural advisors’ that work for the Department. The Pou are all extremely nice blokes (There is one female Pou who I’m led to believe is the rose amongst the thorns) exuding all sorts of mana. The Pou know way more than a thing or two about their culture.
I’m venturing forth from my secluded house in the Wellington ‘burbs, to sleep on a marae with a bunch of anonymous snorers on Arapaoa Marae in Waikawa, and learn about the Treaty amongst other things. And what should I expect? I’m really not quite sure…
Te Pukenga Atawhai participants and Pou Kura Taiao assembled outside Waikawa Marae. Photo: Jazz Scott
Like I say, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I was on a ferry with about 4 people I knew from the Wellington office I work from, and I was about to join about 35 other strangers for a week on the Marae in Waikawa, which is very close to Picton in the Marlborough Sounds.
So I joined around forty of my esteemed colleagues, who were from Wellington, Nelson/Marlborough, Motueka, Reefton, Aoraki/Mt Cook, the NZ Fire Service and elsewhere. We arrived at Waikawa and were brought onto the Marae with a traditional powhiri (welcome). I’d seen powhiri before on the tele and stuff, but I’d never actually experienced one, let alone participated in one… ‘What do I do now?’ I’m wondering, the whole way through… But luckily Te Pūkenga Atawhai is one of those places where ignorance (read: naivety) isn’t shunned, rather it’s welcomed, and then if need be it’s corrected for you in the nicest way possible.
Participants are welcomed onto the marae as we held our own powhiri and hui as a group. Photo: Anaru Luke
Te Pūkenga Atawhai comfortably takes people out of their comfort zones, and it’s a good thing. Each of us had the best part of a week to write our own mihi (greeting) completely in te reo māori. On the last day, each and every one of us got up in front of the whole group in the whare-nui, and delivered his or her mihi. The mihi was followed by a presentation of a taonga (treasure) by each person. Some people talked about their whanau at home, others spoke of their waka or another meaningful possession of theirs. Personally, I talked about my rhyme-book (I make Hip-Hop music) given to me by my Mother, and I thought that one of my conservation-themed verses would be appreciated by the group, so I performed a part of it after my mihi as my taonga. It has to be said that everyone did splendidly, with a task that certainly doesn’t come easily to non-speakers of te reo māori.
Ken Clarke joined us from the NZ Fire Service, here he participates in a role play activity involving the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo: Anaru Luke
When I went to the marae, I already possessed this disconnected vocabulary of te reo māori that I didn’t really know what to do with. I was like: “So when do I say ‘ka pai’?” or “Why do we always sing a waiata after someone has spoken?” or even just “Why do I have to take my shoes off at the whare-nui?” Well now I know about all of that, thanks to DOC and the Pou. I knew about some words, like tu meke, whare, ka pai etc, but now I actually feel comfortable integrating te reo māori into my everyday language. Good times.
Carving at the Marae front gate. Photo: Sam O'Leary
Of course, I know some people who boo-hoo the idea, like: “Maan what a waste of money, I can’t believe DOC’s actually paying for you to stay on a marae with the Maa-reys for a week…way to spend our taxes bro!”
Te Pūkenga Atawhai though, is no holiday. We left with our brains bursting with both fresh and ancient information, and also with the knowledge that probably, we would soon be putting this new information to use in each of our roles. Since treaty settlements began, we’ve had more and more to do with Māori, and if you look across the Department, we probably interact on a near-daily basis. Most of our core business at DOC will involve Māori at some time, and Te Pūkenga Atawhai goes a long way towards the strong relationships we now enjoy with iwi right across Aotearoa.
A poupou depicting Kupe's struggle with the octopus he chased across the Pacific Ocean. This pillar is at Karaka Point, near Waikawa in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Sam O'Leary
Te Pūkenga Atawhai seems to me, to be a pretty unique thing. I don’t hear about many other employers sending their staff to learn about Māori culture and how to deal with and relate to tangata whenua, but I suppose there aren’t too many Government Departments and indeed businesses that work with Iwi as much as we do. If any of you out there have had some similar experiences either with DOC or with any other sort of organisation then let us know. I’d be keen to hear about it, drop us a comment or any questions you’ve got.
Tou rourou, toku rourou, ka ora te Iwi.
(With your contribution and my contribution we will thrive.)
And cheers for reading 😀
The whare-nui through the entrance to the marae. Photo: Sam O'Leary
Pou Hapai Joe Harawira, jammin' in the whare-kai. Photo: Sam O'Leary