Te Ripo O Hinemata Wetland

Cultural Values

byTe Kenehi Teira

Koputoroa translates as “breast of the albatross”

The main fish caught in Koputoroa Stream were tuna (eel). Every tangi would have 15-20 tuna caught using four patuna (eel weirs) located within the wetland. Up until 15 years ago a family member had a licence to eel commercially in the area.  Inanga, kokopu and smelt were also caught in Koputaroa Stream.

Birds were traditionally caught using mutu (foot snares). Mutu are set up on the upper branches of trees, and tree with mutu in are known as tutu. The trees most often used for mutu at this site were probably kahikatea, although other podocarps, northern rata, hinau and maire were also used. Kaka were caught in mutu-kaka by pulling taut a string attached to the snares. A decoy bird was often used. Kereru were caught in waka-kereru- a wooden trough filled with water and with snares attached to its side – when they came to drink. Today, game birds are hunted on the site.

There was a tauranga waka (landing) in the covenant, and a waka was found on the site in the 1940s or 1950s. It is now currently stored on a neighbouring property owned by the Laws, who were previous lessees of the covenant. Waka were used for transport through the wetland areas.

Kereru Marae included a whole family of weavers. Harakeke that is used for traditional weaving is best grown on the margins of wetlands because it was easier to access and maintain in these locations rather than actually in the wetlands. Locally used cultivars including “Wharanui”, which is very tall and pale green, with broad blades, and soft and easy to use.

Toetoe flower stalks (kakaho) are used to line the interior walls and/or ceiling of wharenui. They are placed vertically between the poupou (wall slabs), with horizontal kaho (wooden laths) lashed in front. On this framework, thin strips of pingao, kiekie or harakeke are laced around both the kakaho and the kaho to form patterns. Completed wall panels are called tukutuku.

Raupo was traditionally used for making poi, but is rarely used now. First the pith was scraped from the raupo fibre. The loose pith was then formed into a ball, which was enclosed in raupo and tied above.