I am currently the Education Convenor for the National Council of Women NZ, and the biannual conference is being held in Auckland in a couple of weeks’ time, where I have put myself forward for re-election. NCWNZ’s website is http://www.ncwnz.org.nz/ and their blog can be found at http://www.ncwnz.org.nz/blog-2/. They’re even on Facebook and Twitter!

Over recent years, I have been a regular contributor to the monthly newsletter The Circular. The articles were originally intended to introduce Māori language and culture to the predominantly (but not exclusively) older, Pākehā audience. Since I became Education Convenor I have also been writing about education issues. The good thing is, I know people actually read these articles, because they tell me so! (Authors always like to be read.)

So in the interests of reaching a new audience, I reproduce here my article, which was intended to give a Māori perspective on Tamaki Makau-rau/Auckland.


Our NCWNZ conference this year is to be held in Auckland – or Tāmaki makau-rau, to use its most common Māori name. As Tāmaki makau-rau is sited at a strategically important crossroads of trade routes and also has an abundance of natural resources, it has been occupied for a long period of time and by many different iwi. Correspondingly, there are many different stories and names associated with the area. “Tāmaki” is a person’s name, and different iwi have different histories of who that person was. “Makau” is a favourite, a lover or spouse; “rau” means 100 or more simply, many. So “Tāmaki makau-rau” means “Tāmaki, desired by many lovers” – a name that can refer to an ancestor, or metaphorically to the fertile lands of the area. Another name is “Tāmaki Herenga Waka” or “Tāmaki the gatherer of canoes”, referring to the number of waka that would come to the Auckland harbours. This is still the case, with Auckland’s nickname as the “City of Sails”!

According to Te Ara, the NZ online encyclopedia, there are now six iwi in the wider Tāmaiki region: Ngāti Pāoa on Waiheke Island; Ngāi Tai at Maraetai; Ngāti Whātua at Ōrākei; Te Wai-o-Hua/Ngā Oho at Māngere; Ngāti Te Ata at Manukau; and Te Kawerau-a-Maki in the Waitākere Ranges. Ngāti Pāoa and Ngāti Whātua have both had their Waitangi Tribunal claims upheld for past injustices, and settlement agreements were negotiated. A further Waitangi Tribunal claim was led by Dame Ngāneko Mihinnick regarding the pollution of the Manukau Harbour, and this resulted in a statutory allowance for the consideration of Māori environmental concerns within the Resource Management Act.

In Māori tikanga there is a distinction between tangata whenua (the people of the land) and mana whenua (jurisdiction over a particular territory). Tangata whenua will often be used to refer to the Māori people as a whole, but mana whenua will specifically refer to the iwi who has authority in a particular place. For our conference in Tāmaki makau-rau, I believe that Ngāti Whātua hold mana whenua. Their historical claim to territorial authority is well outlined in a school resource on the Waitangi Tribunal website. We should therefore acknowledge that we are holding our conference on Ngāti Whātua land, enabled by their generous gifts in a previous century of land to British settlers.

Nō reira, e whakawhetai ana tātou ki te manaakitanga o Ngāti Whātua. Ngā mihi nui ki a rātou.

Suzanne Manning
NCWNZ Education Convenor

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development. (2014). The story of Auckland. Retrieved from http://www.aucklandnz.com/discover/the-story-of-auckland
Tāmaki tribes. (2012). In Te Ara, Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/tamaki-tribes
Waitangi Tribunal. (n.d.) Resource kits for scholls: Orakei. Retrieved from http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/resources/teaching-aids/resource-kits/orakei