The Land of Milk and Honey
Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust
August 6, 2021

Turanga: The Land of Milk and Honey is an extension of the ‘All Roads Lead to Ngātapa’ (ARLTN) stage production and forms an integral part of our Te Pūtake O Te Riri Programme.

Rongowhakaata have always sought solace in the arts; a process of stepping into darkness, incubating, and re-emerging with discerning response. Tūranga: The Land of Milk and Honey is the first product in a suite of bilingual resources that aims to share the history of the East Coast Wars in a contemporary form.

Manutuke girls

Kohine, Wahine, Ehine, Kotiro

‘ARLTN’ was a legacy project created entirely by Rongowhakaata uri with a message of strength, survival and activism that centred around our unique history. The intention was to create a forum where historical issues of war crimes, mana whenua, colonialism, oppressive power structures and pākeha dominance were thrust into the spotlight. It was a ground-breaking initiative that gave us the opportunity to set the record straight.  A chance to tell our stories without the usual forced censorship we face time and time again. A warts and all approach formed the basis of our strategy.

A chance to tell our stories without the usual forced censorship we face time and time again.

LAND

Photograph by Mareikura

The title refers to the promises made to settlers by colonial land developers that our whenua was up for the taking, it speaks to the pākeha appetite and how it changed the way in which our whenua was valued. The themes and strategies are very much the same, however this time we are taking a transformative approach as it is our view that this will generate a fundamental and necessary conversation in respect to racism and the politeness it hides behind.

Raiha Moetara

We are Rongowhakaata. We are brave, innovative and daring. From Te Kōwhai to Pouawa, the whenua flows through our veins.

‘Te Putunga o te Hinu’ literally means the oozing of fat. This line is taken from the iconic ancestral lullaby ‘Pōpō’. A song about nourishment, succession and future.

It is the story of a crying child that is hungry for food. She is fed bountifully by the abundance that surrounds her. An ocean of kūmara and kōrero.

An apt metaphor that depicts human yearning for place, purpose and identity.

Knowing who you are is transformative. Imagine being inspired and incited with wisdoms that can only be unlocked by connecting your whakapapa to this whenua. The art of rediscovery is a journey we must all take at one point in our lives.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this important body of work. To Sir. Derek Lardelli, Kenzy Hotene, Soraya Pohatu, The Hokianga whānau, Tawera Tahuri, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, John Porter, Kirsten Maynard, Patrice Tipoki, Teina Moetara, Taonga Tangaere and Haley Hakaraia, we acknowledge and salute you for helping us keep our trailblazing narratives alive.

To all our whanaunga . This is for you. A collection of memories and moments that will inspire you to rediscover your own abundance, much like how a child discovers theirs for the first time.

Pōpō has stood the test of time, plague and digitalisation. Here to remind us about how rich we actually are.

Manea Swann

Manea Swann

is a poetry wiz and excels in writing and acting. She is also a returning cast member. Manea says that "what you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make, I want to inspire change and action."

Taonga Tangaere

Taonga Tangaere

is one of our new additions and is a master of poetry, satire and provocation. "Like rivers to the past I am led by streams of milk and honey through the footprints of our history into the present, carrying with me whakapapa, feeling, and the question.... ko wai koe?"

Rahera Taukamo-Bidois

Rahera Taukamo-Bidois

hails from Rotorua and specialises in music, lyric and beats. .Rahera believes that “There's a whakapapa to everything, colonization, loss of identity, and intergenerational trauma and I wanted to be a part of telling that whakapapa through art and expression to move people and correct the narratives”

Marcia Akroyd

Marcia Akroyd

is an amazing music creator and specialises in innovative arrangements. She was also part of 'All Roads Lead to Ngātapa'..Marcia says that “Connecting to my culture through artistic expression activates my DNA and brings me closer to my Tipuna, my whakapapa and who I am destined to be.”

Rongowhakaata have always expressed ourselves through art innovation and used artistic mediums to preserve our unique stories, this devised production is another example of that. In addition, the devised method of making content requires each cast member to dive deep into the historical narratives which in turn helps them understand our history. The cast members then become repositories of information that then share with their whānau and extended social circles, which in turn creates a ripple effect in the community. Finally, the Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust is the only iwi organisation that has taken this approach to storytelling by way of stage production and so we are leading the way in this space.

The world premiere of Tūranga: The Land of Milk and Honey is set to be performed at Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival on October 9th at the Lawson Field Theatre. There are two showings at 2pm and at 7pm. Tickets are available now on the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival website.

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