He wairua haerenga

I am quite the challenge gatherer. So when I said to my Mum that I’ve signed up for another challenge, her first response was actually, “another one?”

It all started when I was talking to my good friend. They asked me if I had read the Treaty of Waitangi tribunal oral report of Muaūpoko to find some information. These are pieces of evidence that are submitted to the tribunal to support cases and claims. I downloaded it and set off to read through this new evidence I hadn’t seen before. It outlined our iwi tīpuna, what our ancestral landmarks are and highlighted significant events throughout history.

But it was one page that caught my attention.

Eugene Henare spoke of the ancient tracks that were used by Muaupoko to travel to the Wairarapa and to Kahungunu and vice versa, adding that in more recent times trampers have been lost on occasions, something that never happened when the tribe made the traditional journey over the Tararua Maunga to the coast and back.
Rather than establish trails, many of the tramping clubs around the Tararua Ranges used those that were originally traversed by Maori on both sides of the ranges. Early trampers observed that Maori followed well‐defined ridges and some even assisted the first surveyors of the ranges.

So sitting here reading this part I sat staring at my computer screen and blinking a few times. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t want to admit it to myself.

Just to do a fact check. I whakapapa most closely are Muaūpoko, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne. All iwi who are noted as transversing these tracks.

I have never tramped. I have never walked for more than half a day.

But in my head I was sitting there thinking, why don’t I transverse this path? Why don’t I take the path of my tīpuna?

I tell my siblings and they’re keen to come along too. I tell a matua at a tangi we both attended that I have this ‘really random idea’. I explain and he laughs at me and says that he’s heard stories about the path. That our ancestors walked it and that there is tapu spots and places along the track for us. That he has always wanted to take his children over the ranges. He asks me if he could come too. I smile and enthusiastically add that he absolutely can. I reach out to another matua to see if he’s interested. He is absolutely keen. He’s already thinking of waiata, karakia and other spiritual preparation for us.

So coming back to my tramping experience. It’s zero. But you know what? It wouldn’t be a challenge if I did have tramping experience. It will be my wairua haerenga. It will be my spirit journey. Whether there is 10 of us on that hill or 3, I’ll be working my way up to this challenge. It will be my journey and challenge, both physically, mentally and spirtually.