Southern Gleanings

Ko Takitimu te Maunga
Ko Waiau te Awa
Ko Takutai o Te Tītī te Marae
Ko Ōraka Aparima te Rūnaka

Takutai o Te Tītī te Marae
Tangaroa scroll

Tangaroa is especially pertinent to Takutai o Te Tītī te Marae, positioned as it is just across the road from the sea. So close in fact, the potential for encroachment issues is ever-present. It is accepted that at some stage in the future the marae will have to move to another location farther away from crumbling borders with te moana (the sea).

Takutai o Te Tītī
‘Meaning the seacoast or coastline of the Tītī,
the name celebrates our Tītī (muttonbirds)
returning each year to our shores. Their arrival
healds the coming Tītī season.’ (Info. from marae website.)

Given the relationship our marae has with the sea however, I’m sure any future shift will still have it placed close to, and in sight of, the ocean.

Last week my sister, my niece and her three daughters, plus myself, all had the privilege of meeting whanau and kaumātua from Takutai o Te Tītī / Oraka Aparima.

My sister and I have made many trips back to Western Southland, Murihiku to what we consider is our Tūrangawaewae. However this is the first time we’ve met this branch of our family tree, our whakapapa, those who never left; who hold the taonga, the kete of stories and names, the whakapapa.

We whakapapa back to our tupuna Motoitoi (Makareta) who married William Dallas from Islay, Scotland, so we were keen to learn any farther information about where she came from and where she was buried.

We were told it’s likely she came down to Murihiku (Southland) from Waitaha (Canterbury). Where she is buried is not known – maybe on Rakiura (Stewart Island) maybe on the small island of Ruapuke that lies between Motupōhue (Bluff) and Rakiura. And so the korero continues.

The only information from Motoitoi’s past is that which was captured from what was spoken about; recited, remembered; and it seems that much of that has been lost. Such losses are familiar to many of us seeking to glean what we can of ancestors; no matter what race.

This visit felt like something of a beginning but at the same time, simply a continuation. It felt like this was the first small step, yet something of a giant leap, gravity-free. It felt like nothing much had changed, yet everything had. It felt prodigal. It felt as if we’d never left.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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