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Ngutukākā plantings at Wairuru Marae

At the far end of the Te Whānau-a-Apanui side of state highway 35, nestled in a little bay at Raukokore and near the east cape landmark Christ Church, you'll find Wairūrū marae. Here, over the winter months of 2023, the whānau got busy returning a range of taonga native species to their whenua, including dozens of beautiful red ngutukākā, courtesy of the Tairāwhiti Ngutukaka project.

"I read this quote the other day: Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose" said Jane Swinton, one of the members of the Wairūrū planting committee.
"This resonated with me in relation to our planting mahi here, at our marae. We have lost so much from the past, but we can choose what we want our future to look like. By returning some of our taonga plants like ngutukākā to our marae, we'll create a brighter tomorrow for our mokopuna".

Jane Swinton, Merle Callaghan and Hannah Taputoro with some of the ngutukākā that were gifted as koha by the Tairāwhiti Ngutukākā kaupapa and planted at Wairūrū marae in 2023

"It's incredible to see our beautiful marae being embellished with these incredible plants," says Alice Cameron, one of the founders of the Tairāwhiti Ngutukākā project. "I don't live nearby, so each time I come back I'm stunned to see how much more mahi has been done, how incredible the place looks and how much progress is being made. I get the feeling our tīpuna would be so happy to see this. Over the summer it was wonderful to be here with our whānau, with everyone helping out".

Many of the tamariki have been involved with the project from weeding and helping to find driftwood for the edges of our gardens, to playing sword fights with each other, using the stakes we are trying to secure our ngutukākā with!

This project is not just about putting plants in the ground. It's about creating opportunities for whānau to mahi together, create and connect with something beautiful, and learn and grow as a whānau - while our ngutukākā plants grow alongside us. More plans for native planting are underway for winter 2024 and beyond, as Wairūrū marae looks to the future and their wider community beyond the marae grounds.


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