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He Raranga Korero : Tale of a Fish


He Raranga Korero : Tale of a Fish

“Auckland City. Every year it gets larger and larger, busier and busier. Every year, the sprawling suburbs and holiday homes get further and further up the coast. This expansion is pushing into an area where people have lived for generations. Lifestyles where food comes from a net rather than a supermarket. The north, or Te Tai Tokerau, has always been a catalyst for change.”

Narrator Haunui Royal sets the tone as HE RARANGA KORERO screens another pertinent and relevant documentary this Tuesday May 31 at 9.30 PM.

HE RARANGA KORERO is a unique series that re-visits Maori archival documentaries in the new millennium. Well-known presenter Tainui Stephens fronts the programme and revisits the inspirational, controversial and influential people that were involved in the original documentaries.

This week, the documentary Tale of a Fish takes precedence, sweeping from Pakiri to Moerewa, stopping off at Mangamuka until it reaches an appropriate ending at Cape Reinga in a bid to examine the stripping of resources at the hands of commercialism and urban sprawl, from a Maori perspective.

Kaumatua Laly Haddon (Ngati Wai) is the custodian of 2000 acres of land and bush at Pakiri Beach, north of Auckland. The land has been handed down for generations, but the economic growth of Auckland is now stomping on the area’s back door and creating rates to rise in the process.

Laly and his wife have set up a small tourism business, Pakiri Horse Treks, to cope with the extra financial strain. “The urban march is where the power is. When it comes down to democracy, a thousand peole will always tell the two people what to do. And it all comes down to the strength of the two. If we were still farming, we would have had to walk off this land. Whatever brings in the cash, we’ll take it.”

Tell local customary fisherman ‘Rip’ about the change of the urban tide and introduced legislation to curb the sprawling population. Living in a caravan with his children while fishing for the table and the local marae, Rip struggles to fit in a mould dictated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries that sets the terms for his food-gathering. “I’ve been fishing like this for years and years and so has my family. For the last four of five years, they’ve put a title to it – customary fishing. We’ve been brought to the forefront of disputes with MAF and we don’t want that. It’s the view that’s gone out to the public that they think that we’re just a whole lot of hoods trying to claim things back for Maori, and we didn’t even feel that we lost it.”

Then, on to Moerewa in the far north. Once dubbed ‘Tuna Town’ for its rich eel stocks, Moerewa is facing a crisis. Says local kaumatua Tori Ashby, “it’s not as plentiful as it used to be. I’ve seen where commercial eelers have taken them out by the truckloads. We’ve made a ban for no more commercial eelers in Ngati Hine because there are too many people not leaving anything behind. We’re trying to keep it for the whanau and those not able to access the rivers.”

But, the rivers are becoming polluted and the community is discovering that the source of the problem is a waterfall that is spreading run-off from the pines growing in the vicinity. The eel are dying and locals are continuing to treat the waterways as swimming holes – spelling an ecological crisis in the making.

Is there an answer for Maori to continue traditional fishing practices in a world where urban sprawl, ever-evolving legislation and commercialism are putting them in jeopardy? And, will the people of Northland find the answer before it is too late?

Find out on HE RARANGA KORERO : Tale of the Fish, this Tuesday May 31 at 9.30 PM.


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