Have you ever pulled in through the gate at the Centre and deeply exhaled? An incredible feast meets the sense doors, the whenua, the land, alive with sounds, movement and smells. It always makes me smile as the whole organism seems to breathe a sigh of relief.
An intrinsic part of being at the Wangapeka Retreat Centre, is feeling deeply into the support and connection with the land. So many of our community have expressed how that connection has been felt from first stepping foot through the gates. We are supported and we support. We are connected whether we know it or not.
So many weavings have created the land to be as it is, and continue to provide us with the support and nourishment we so obviously feel by being at the Centre. But what of the human weavings? How has the land been passed from one human collective to another? What has the whenua been used for? How did the whenua pass from Mana Whenua to Pàkehà? What is the whakapapa of the Wangapeka Retreat Centre whenua?
In these times of great global challenge and change, gaining deeper understanding and greater clarity from these questions seems important as each piece of information has the ability to feed our present day actions.
With these musings, earlier this year, I began the initial stages of discovery, firstly getting historic title deeds, archive records, old newspaper articles and history books. Enquiries have been made with Mana Whenua- Ngāti Rarua, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tama and the local Tapawera community.
Tracking the historic titles deeds is the easy part with clear historical Pàkehà ownership to 1903. Other historical records detail information about the area as a whole, the gold rush days of the 1860’s, the New Zealand Land Company Purchase of land in the area for allocation to settlers, and the large Wangapeka Run sheep station of the 1840’s. There are hints of Iwi use of the area pre 1840 as a corridor to the west coast and to trading routes.
Our February Hui, with the involvement of Pa Ropata Rob McGowan provided another investigation of the richness of the land that the Centre has been built on, through the eyes of Rongoà Màori wisdom. Our July Hui traced back movement of people across the region from tangata whenua, and provided time for the community to deepen our understanding of our present connections to the richness of the land we stand on.
There are more stories to be collected from kuia, kaumatua and elders in our community, who hold the stories of the history of the area and of the land the Centre is built on. It’s a process with its own momentum!
Once we have a clearer picture, more information will be shared. For now, if you would like to contribute in any way to this journey of discovery, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.