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My fieldwork has brought me home, to my grandmother’s whaanau [extended family] in Raahui-Pookeka [Huntly]. Raahui-Pookeka, like many small, provincial towns in Aotearoa [New Zealand], is marked by contested histories of governance, industry and capital, which reverberate through the present, and into the future. Amongst it all, however, the spiritual seat of the Kiingitanga [the Maaori King Movement], Waahi Paa [village], endures, as an anchor for our people. ‘The Waahi way’ is a sustained, intergenerational process of becoming, in which Waahi whaanau [families of Waahi paa] fight to establish and maintain the good life: for our kaumaatua [elders], mokopuna [grandchildren], each other, and oneself. This process is beset by constant challenges, forged in and through an environment of both scarcity and excess. My fieldwork traces this process, and how it might sit with, and trouble, the contested histories, and the attending exodus of labour, industry, governance and capital, Raahui-Pookeka presents. How this process is fostered is explored through the images offered, where the relationships between time, place and people reveal the enormity of what Waahi seeks to achieve.


‘6am in Ngaaruawaahia’

Hau kaainga [home people; hosts] prepare to welcome manuhiri [visitors] from Raatana Paa with a poowhiri [rituals of encounter; welcoming ceremony] during Kiingi Tuuheitia Paki’s [Maaori King, Tuuheitia] at Tuurangawaewae [a place to stand] marae [meeting house], at 6am in Ngaaruawaahia – the physical seat of the Kiingitanga.


‘3pm in Waitangi’

Roles are reversed as Ngaapuhi, a large iwi [tribe] in Te Tai Tokerau [Northland], receive the Kiingitanga in a fearsome poowhiri [rituals of encounter] at 3pm in Waitangi. This is an annual commemoration of the signing of Te Tiiriti o Waitangi, the foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s constitution, signed between rangatira [Maaori chiefs] and the Crown, in 1840.


‘4pm in Raahui-Pookeka’

My cousin, Atawhai, rocks a grizzly peepi [baby] to sleep, after a long day of koorero [speeches], kai [food] and celebration, to mark the 80th birthday of her mother and Waahi paa kaumaatua [elder], Tutata Matatahi, at 4pm in Raahui-Pookeka. Aunty Tutata has given her life in service of Waahi, and is upheld as an example of what it means to live the good life.