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PREAMBLE The Stories

A hundred years of histories

Narrative researchers collect stories from individuals and retell or restory the participants’ stories into a framework such as chronology of the characters, the setting, the problems, the actions and a resolution of those actions. Throughout this process collaboration occurs with the participant, and the story composed by the researcher tells of the participants’ life experiences (Cresswell, J. 2005, p.


For Ngati Te Takinga – Ngati Pikiao, the ordinary, everyday life stories recorded for this project are a unique resource. Through their ‘ordinary’ tellers, the stories connect our present to our past and to the future; they connect one generation with the other; the land with the people and the people with the stories (L. Smith, 1999). Each story taken alone offers a fragmentary microscopic representation (Fort, 1996) of an individual Māori life in the 20th and early 21st centuries, as it was experienced and is remembered. Spanning approximately one hundred years, when read together the stories offer a broad composite of the hapū’s pre, current and possible future social condition. The first-hand accounts reveal the texture of Ngati Te Takinga - Māori life; illuminating and exploring some compelling themes through the provision of expansive social commentaries captured through the voices of both the young and the old. Most importantly, the windows into the past, the journeys to the present and the hopes and concerns for the future of Ngati Te Takinga, and for Te Takinga marae, offer a navigational point; a foundation for whānau-hapū and Iwi future directions and decision making purposes.

The past, the present and the future are all encapsulated within the following stories.

From the nostalgic, ‘telling’ accounts of home as relayed by the elders, to the tensions, the conflicts and the complexities associated with the disconnection and re-connection of Ngati Te Takinga peoples; the stories are a site of transformation; they work to address the central concern of the ‘critical school’ whose task is to emancipate people from the positivistic domination of thought (Carr & Kemmis, 1986). Recording the relationships amoung the people, tying everyone by whakapapa and honouring the mana of the

ancestors of the past, the stories provide an opportunity for Ngati Te Takinga, and other Māori people, to critically reflect upon our own situations and to change them through our own actions (Carr & Kemmis, 1986).

The chapters into which the stories have been incorporated are loosely arranged in accord with J. Williams’s (cited in James, 2000) assignation of Māori as described in Chapter Two. Chapter Five constitutes stories from mana whenua/ahi kaa participants Merepaea Henry and Nancy Mason. The absence of further ‘mana whenua’ voices from this chapter is the result of three factors. Firstly the low numbers of ‘mana whenua’ kuia and koroua; secondly, the passing of one Ngati Te Takinga kuia the day before her scheduled interview and thirdly, the non participation of Ngati Te Takinga home-dwelling

men/elders in the project. The non participation of these men was discussed fully in the previous chapter.

Stories in Chapter Six are drawn from Te Arawa or, Ngati Te Takinga people who moved from Mourea to live outside of the Ngati Te Takinga tribal boundaries but remained within the wider Te Arawa region in the Rotorua Township. Due to their ‘tino’ kuia status and their continued residence upon Te Arawa lands, these participants have also been classified as mana whenua/ahi kaa. Although living outside of Ngati Te Takinga’s geographical boundaries, both participants have continually participated in whānau or tribal activities at varying levels. Following on from chapter Six, Chapter Seven

constitutes stories from ‘te hunga hoki (mai)’ or, people who left Mourea to live in other national and international locations but returned to Rotorua in later years. These stories take account of the participants experiences of living away while maintaining varying degrees of connection to, and participation amoungst, Ngati Te Takinga, Ngati Pikiao; all have made a permanent return to live in the Rotorua Township, with one returning to Mourea.

Stories from nationally and internationally located Ngati Te Takinga away-dwellers - te hunga haere/te ahi tere make up Chapter Eight. The first of these away-dwellers currently resides in Nelson in the South Island of New Zealand; he has been away (from Mourea

and Ngati Te Takinga) in excess of fifty years and has only recently begun the process of reconnecting with his Ngati Te Takinga kin. The second participant profiled in the hunga haere section of the stories, has been an Australian resident in since 1969. The

participant knew (knows) his connections to Ngati Te Takinga but chooses not to use his Māori ancestry as the fundamental basis of his identity. He classifies himself as an

‘ANZAC’ – an Australian New Zealander of Māori descent, who knows he has Māori ancestry but doesn’t necessarily identify as Mäori.

As expected, the depth of meanings contained in each of the stories differs. This occurrence is attributable to the age and status of particular participants. Asking

questions of the old people was often-times highly inappropriate and offensive to them.

For example, when co-constructing meaning within the text, asking the old people what they meant by what they said often met with the response: “what do you mean what do I mean? I mean what I said!” Likewise when using a question to extract meaning from a particular action one kuia had taken in response to an event that had occurred in her home, she responded by saying “he hopuhopu tēnā” [I didn’t think about the

consequences because to think about the consequences will cause them to happen].

Despite the research context in which such questions were posed, her response drew attention to the inappropriate nature of my lines of inquiry. Asking ‘why’ was both tactless and inconsiderate. Referring to these same types research concerns, authors Gluck & Patai (1991) cite the experience of a co-researcher, an Indian woman who was interviewing other Indian women from various Washington tribes. Gluck and Patai noted: ‘[that] she felt torn between a need to gather specific information and an

awareness of appropriate relationships between young and old: the rules she had learned as an Indian child prohibited questioning elders, initiating topics, or disagreeing in any form even by implying that a comment might be incomplete’ (Gluck, S. & Patai, D. 1991, p. 14).

On this basis therefore, the old people’s stories are, in part, semi co-constructed; they are couched within a framework that guides the reader’s interpretations of the stories thereby enabling them to ‘hear’ what has been said. The stories are surrounded and cosseted with

an interpretive framework that adheres closely to the normality of who we are as Māori (Ormond, et al, 2004). Constructed from secondary research sources that validate, fortify and enhance the old people’s kōrero, the framework is important for two reasons. Firstly, because it ensures that the diversity of the voices recorded, are heard; rather than just the most articulate of the participants whose words can be left to stand on their own without analysis. The absence of an interpretative framework would have silenced the voices and therefore, the important messages and the traditional wisdoms of our kuia. Secondly the interpretive framework, in tandem with the careful crafting of words, better enabled the old people to become active participants in the legitimation phase of the project.

In contrast to the old people, the younger research participants were more open to questions. Subsequently they were active participants in the story co-construction process. A difference therefore in the analysis across the four chapters of stories, may be discernable. Being more open to questions and discussion, the younger and more

articulate of the participants had an applied role in the analysis of their stories. In many cases, they gave full and comprehensive meanings to their own stories and the

interpretative framework became a tool by which to complement their own

interpretations. Importantly, the stories while written as a part of a ‘whole’ are also designed to ‘stand alone’. The writing method used is consistent with the principles of kaupapa Māori research and takes account of participants (and hapū members) who may desire only, to read the stories section of the research. To this end, some information may be repeated across different stories.

English translations of Māori phrases spoken by participants occur in the text. Although validated by the speakers, the translations are not represented as quotes because they are the work of the author. Acknowledgment is due also to those participants who had passed on at the time when this thesis was written up. They are, Merepaea Henry and Hilda Inia. Their stories remain as they were written prior to their passing, on the basis that these were the stories validated by them. Notions of home, belongingness and identity and the trichotomy of connection, disconnection and reconnection are discussed

within the stories. The key emergent themes arising from these discussions are gathered together, and analysed, in the final chapter.