Pūkaha recently announced success in securing $2m from the Provincial Growth Funding, which will be used to build an education centre and accommodation for tourists and locals. Wayne Pītau, cultural advisor at Pūkaha, will soon take leave from his position to lead a carving project there for up to 12 months.
Wayne admits he did not grow up with te reo but has always had a passion for toi Māori and was able to connect with his Māoritanga through mahi whakairo. His great grandfather, Te Nahu Haeata Snr (Ngāti Hāmua) was a master carver who carved Ngā Tau e Waru, the wharenui at Te Oreore, so carving is in his blood. “I believe carving and toi Māori grows our people while connecting them to identity, the whenua, and the taiao”.
Part of the PGF funding will resource Wayne and his team of five to carve fulltime, 6 days a week. His team of five will carve under the whare-noa (kawa/tikanga) from TWoA which allows women and children to be around. The team includes a wahine carver, a rangatahi (18) and two other Māori, all who whakapapa to Rangitāne and one qualified Pākehā carver with 20 years’ experience.
The carving shed will be open to the public, even after the carving is done so Wayne encourages anyone who is interested to come and watch and be part of the Kaupapa. “Trust the journey, the tīpuna are with us and support Kaupapa māori which is tika”.
Wayne hopes people come and use the space and become familiar with their connections to Pūkaha “come give your time to Pūkaha and learn”. Growing our rangatahi is one of his biggest passions. “Koro Jim was passionate about growing rangatahi, and I want to follow in that”.
When asked how Rangitāne uri could utilise the space he said “Wānanga, all the wānanga you can think of. This place is a vehicle, there’s so much potential for our people to grow, learn, and develop their own path, so make Pūkaha part of your journey”.