Hihiaua Cultural Center book launches pager-turner for Whangārei

Hihiaua Cultural Center Trust Secretary Janet Hetaraka has spent the last year editing the recently launched book, Me Anga Whakamua – Facing the Future. Photo / Tania Whyte

While many people may face the future, an inspirational book and multimedia exhibit at the Hihiaua Cultural Center in Whangārei stares it head-on.

The center is weeks away from the new exhibit, Me Anga Whakamua – Facing the Future, which is set to run throughout the month.

Waitangi Day saw the book – the exhibition’s namesake – launched to look back at the first encounters between Maori and Europeans at Tai Tokerau, but also to look towards a shared future.

The launch, funded by the Department of Culture and Heritage, attracted a group of high-profile figures including Dame Jenny Shipley and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.

Trust Secretary and Project Coordinator Janet Hetaraka edited Me Anga Whakamua – Facing the Future, which is loaded with exquisite photographs by Diane Stoppard of Whangārei.

Captured within the pages of the book are historical and current accounts of tangata whenua giving different perspectives of their dual heritage and hopes for the future.

Hetaraka said about 16 tangata whenua portraits fill the book and were taken by Stoppard during Tuia 250 in 2019.

Tuia 250 commemorated 250 years since the first land encounters between Maori and Pākehā. It also celebrated the Pacific peoples’ legacy of travel that led to the settlement of Aotearoa many generations before.

Hihiaua was the focal point for Tuia 250 in Whangārei, where crews were greeted by a mass haka performed by school children lining the Onerahi foreshore.

The publication of Me Anga Whakamua – Facing the Future was supported by Te Au Marie Trust as a legacy project of Tuia 250.

“The book is truly the Maori voice – our stories, our history and our aspirations for the future – but as most people who have read it say, it is for all New Zealanders,” Hetaraka said. .

“It came at a crucial time for New Zealand. People are trying to divide us when in fact the Tuia binds us together and it’s been an ongoing process for 252 years now.”

The exhibition offers a different exploration in the form of traditional whakairo (sculpture), raranga (braiding) as well as video interviews with the tangata whenua captured during Tuia 250, photographs, prints, pottery and jewelry .

Both aligned with Hihiaua’s commitment to restoring Maori identity to Whangārei, Hetaraka said.

“Books are an integral part of our culture…and the beautiful, beautiful things that people have created for the exhibit are simply inspiring and speak to our culture.”

Me Anga Whakamua – Facing the Future is available for purchase exclusively from the Hihiaua Cultural Center, with proceeds being used to help raise funds for the centre’s planned second stage development.

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