Looking back, to move forward

Showing their moko and pukana are Charlie Lyford (5), Waitoa Hart (9), and Tira Patrick (5).
Showing their moko and pukana are Charlie Lyford (5), Waitoa Hart (9), and Tira Patrick (5).

More than 100 people visited the Omaka Marae yesterday to celebrate Waitangi Day and to get a taste of Maori culture.

Marae manager Kylie Nepia said their community this year wanted to invite the younger generation in for an insight into traditional Maori skills and practices.

Preparation started on Wednesday night when older members of the marae taught the younger boys how to put down a hangi, which was to be their feast yesterday afternoon.

Hunter Wallace, 10, and Te Ao Marama Nepia, 8, try their hand at walking on Maori Stilts.
Hunter Wallace, 10, and Te Ao Marama Nepia, 8, try their hand at walking on Maori Stilts.

With an increasingly fast-paced world full of new technology and instant gratification, marae members wanted to take the new generation back to "traditional ways" for a day, Mr Nepia said.

They had been weaving baskets, playing Maori games, using Maori stilts, getting their faces painted with traditional moko, and learning how to set up the wharekai (dining hall) for 80 people.

"Hopefully when they come of age we will have hangi makers, we're just transferring those skills and traditions," Mr Nepia said.

Nine-year-old Waitoa Hart
Nine-year-old Waitoa Hart

The majority of visitors already had connections with the marae but the day was about making them feel more involved with its processes.

The interactive day was also a way of teaching younger members, or visitors to the marae about their identity and what made them who they are today.

Many of the visitors spent time listening to Rangitane Development manager Richard Bradley talking about tribal history and customs while others signed up for Maori language courses.

Margaret Bond helps Alex Brown (7) weave her first basket.
Margaret Bond helps Alex Brown (7) weave her first basket.

Rangitane Development Manager Richard Bradley talks about tribal history and customs to a crowd assembled in the meeting house.
Rangitane Development Manager Richard Bradley talks about tribal history and customs to a crowd assembled in the meeting house.

The Marlborough Express