The Ōtepoti Narrative Wānaka Series

Visiting places and stories of significance in Ōtepoti-Dunedin  

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Welcome everyone onto our second hīkoi, following the trails of our ancestors, and sharing the kōrero of our Taranaki whānau who were wrongly imprisoned. These stories are to uphold our history, so we know who we are and where we come from, to be passed on, to generations to come. Early on a Saturday morning by the Otago Harbour, Pōua Edward Ellison begins the day with a mihi to the whānau (mana whenua ki Ōtākou) as they board the bus for the second part of the series of Ōtepoti Narrative Wānaka tours.   

The purpose of these wānaka is to gather kaumātua, pakeke, and mokopuna together, and traverse the trails of their ancestors and share the stories buried there; experiencing their kōrero in the places of significance. 

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During this tour, whānau explored the landscapes and stories of Ōtepoti, Dunedin, remembering the lost foreshores of Ōtākou and in more recent history, the Taranaki whānau who were captured by the Crown and taken to Ōtepoti as prisoners, forced to provide labour for multiple civic works as part of their unjust sentences from the Crown. Many of them died and were buried far away from their whānau and tūrakawaewae. 

This was a sad chapter in the city’s history, and mana whenua ki Ōtākou are committed to preserving and passing onto future generations this important part of history that occurred within their takiwā.  

 The vision for the planning and inception of this hapū wānaka series is encapsulated in 'Te Ara Tapuwae o Kāi Tahu'. Its organisers want their mokopuna to recognise themselves and their culture in the surrounding environment and be empowered to take up opportunities to strengthen, protect and revitalise mātauraka Kāi Tahu in the community. This is, in essence, the purpose of Aukaha and it has been a privilege to support rūnaka aspirations with the delivery of these wānaka.  

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The Exchange, located on reclaimed land, with the original edge of the Otago Harbour several hundred metres further inland.
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Captured by the crown and forced to work under punishing conditions, many Taranaki whānau died and were buried far away from their whānau and tūrakawaewae

Whānau member Tia Taiaroa says “Although I grew up at the door of our marae in Ōtākou, we never really got to do these things as a hapū and go around the places that are so close to us.

I think it is really important to embed our culture here and to see all the significant places for us as mana whenua here.”  

There is strength in numbers and the more who hold the stories, the more people sharing mātauraka Kāi Tahu, the more brightly their hapū identity will shine.  

Watch this story as mana whenua ki Ōtākou gain strength in their sense of identity and connection to the whenua as they visit the places and stories of significance within the takiwā. 

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