Hokimoana Te Rika-Hekerangi, of Ruatāhana within Ngāi Tūhoe, is passionate about helping others to learn and utilise te reo Māori.
E ngākaunui ana a Hokimoana Te Rika-Hekerangi, nō Ruatāhuna nō roto o Ngāi Tūhoe, ki te whakaako i te hunga kaingākau ki te kōrero Māori.
She has worked tirelessly to champion the language throughout her life, including as a founding member of both Te Rōpū Wahine Māori Toko i te Ora (Māori Women’s Welfare League) and the language revitalisation initiative Te Ataarangi.
Kua roa ia e whakapau kaha ana ki te hāpai i te reo rangatira. Mai i a ia i uru ai ki ngā whakahaere o ngā Wahine Māori Toko i te Ora, tae noa mai hoki ki ngā mahi ā Te Ataarangi. Mai i tērā wā ki nāianei, kei te āwhina tonu ia i te kaupapa o te reo.
When Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Māori advisor Tania Te Whenua (Tūhoe, Whakatōhea) told Hokimoana about the work we do and that we were seeking advice on a Māori name for the organisation, Hokimoana didn’t hesitate.
I te wā i kōrero ai tō mātou kaiārahi Māori a Tania Te Whenua (Tūhoe, Te Whakatōhea) ki a Hokimoana ki tahi ingoa mō tā mātou kaupapa mahi, kāore ia i roa e whakaaroaro ana, ka kitea he ingoa.
She says it was the organisation’s focus on unity and connectedness that made it easy to find the name – Te Whītau Tūhono.
E ai kī a Hokimoana, nā te kotahi me te tūhono o te kaupapa o te mahi i māmā ai te whiriwhiri he ingoa, arā, Te Whītau Tūhono.
“From what I observed of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, [they] are strong on connecting communities,” she told us in te reo Māori.
“Koira taku kite i te rōpū nei. Ko rātou he kaha, me kaha, e kaha, ki te tūhono i ngā mōmō tāngata, iwi, aha rānei.”
“It is an organisation that strengthens connectedness between people. The Asia New Zealand Foundation isn’t focussed on difference, they are focussed on unity.
“He rōpū tēnei kei te whakakaha ki te honohono i a ngāi tāua, i te tangata. Kāore i te titiro ki ngā tūmomo āhuatanga, ēngari kei te titiro kē ki te tūhonohonotanga o tangata.”
“And that’s the essence of the word tūhono. That’s also why the connections will be strong, hence the choice of the description whītau.”
“Kei reira te tūhono rā. Nō reira ko te whakatau o te whītau te tohu o te kaha o te hono.”
Whītau is the fibrous part of the flax that is used, for example, in piupiu because of its hardy properties; it’s not easy to break.
Ko te whītau te wāhi kaha o te harakeke, he pai hei hanga piupiu, tē tāea te momotu.
Hokimoana tells us that the concepts of unity and connectedness bring to mind the special relationship she has with a certain grandchild, for whom she composed a waiata [see video].
E kī ana a Hokimoana, he waiata i titongia e ia mō rāua ko tana mokopuna, he ōrite te kaupapa ki tēnei, arā ki te kaha o tō rāua tūhono me tō rāua kotahitanga.
Tania says the organisation has taken an important first step in honouring its commitments to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and including Māori in its work.
Ki tā Tania, he timataranga whakahirahira tēnei ki te whakahōnore i Te Tiriti o Waitangi, me te aro atu hoki ki a ngāi tāua, ki te iwi Māori i ngā kaupapa mahi.
She points out that as recently as the 1980s Māori were discouraged from using te reo in work environments, and to be in a place now where an organisation can choose to express itself in Māori is a milestone.
Kua hoki ngā mahara ki ngā tau waru tekau i aukatihia ai te reo Māori e te karauna i ngā tari mahi. Ināianei kei te whakamāori ngā tari mahi i ō rātou ingoa, ā kua tino huri te tai.
“To us it might be seemingly insignificant, but to te iwi Māori it might be hugely significant.”
“Tērā pea ko te whakaaro kāore he kiko o te whakaingoa Māori, ēngari he tino taonga tērā ki te iwi Māori.” te kī ā Tania.
“In traditional Māori culture, naming was a sacred act, it was something that had its own tikanga and formal process”, Tania says.
E ai anō ki a ia, “I ngā wā o te ao ukiuki, he tino tapu te whakaingoa Māori, ā, he tikanga hōhonu anō hoki tērā mahi.”
“The first step that Asia New Zealand Foundation has taken, to seek out a Māori name, is a very sacred step, it’s the right step, because it grounds the work that the Foundation will do thereafter.”
“Nō reira, e tika ana tēnei rōpū ki te rapu ingoa Māori hei whakatangatawhenua i ngā mahi mō te iwi Māori i runga i te tika me te pono.”
In memory of Hokimoana
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of respected kuia and repository of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori, Hokimoana Te Rika Hekerangi (Ngāi Tūhoe).
The Asia New Zealand Foundation was privileged to be gifted our Māori name, Te Whītau Tūhono by Hokimoana - an example of her generosity and enduring passion for sharing the gift of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori ki te ao (with the world).
Hokimoana was a dedicated kaiako and respected kuia of Te Ataarangi Māori language training since it's inception.
Hokimoana had a passion for connecting Māori culture with other cultures worldwide, and it is through that passion that the Asia New Zealand Foundation was privileged to have her support for our work in connecting New Zealanders with Asia.
In Hokimoana's own words, Te Whītau Tūhono was chosen to represent our work in strengthening the unbreakable bond between New Zealander and Asia.
Hokimoana, we are blessed to have known you and will treasure the legacy that you leave behind in honouring our name, and our commitment to Māoridom in the work that we do.
Okioki mai rā e kui, moe mai i tō moe rangatira.