Best of 2016 - He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere

Continuing our series on Family History - the best of 2016. Here's Maata, our Māori Reference Librarian, with her "best of."

He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere – I am a chick just learning to fly

The above Māori proverb describes my recent experience as a new staff member at Te Kohinga Rangahau o Tāmaki Makaurau - Auckland Research Centre, aptly. Albeit perplexing at times, my seven months navigation of the research centre and its environs, the nearby stacks, the library basement and the Sir George Grey Special Collections has been very rewarding.

Also discovering the depth and breadth of the cultural and historical material within the numerous collections held on the Heritage floor has been inspiring. As an unwitting fledgling, now airborne, I feel very honoured to be a kaitiaki/guardian of this extremely important environment that is rich with the cultural heritage of Aotearoa-New Zealand, the Pacific and Great Britain. I would like to share some of the highlights of this wonderful journey.


Firstly, locating information about the Whare tipuna Hinemihi of Te Arawa was emotive but enormously worthwhile. This treasured Whare Tipuna was uprooted from Aotearoa/NZ and relocated to England by William Hillier, 4th Earl of Onslow, a colonial Governor of New Zealand during the late 1800s. He purchased the meeting house as fond memorabilia of Aotearoa, to take back to his family home in England. There are many books in Auckland Libraries on Hinemihi, along with a previous blog post.

Hinemihi meeting house at Te Wairoa. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 8. Ref: PAColl-6075-19. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


I also responded to an international enquiry from Utah regarding the current status of the piupiu in Aotearoa. The art of piupiu making is thriving in Aotearoa and is being upheld by custodians such as Hetet whānau, Christina Wirihana and many others.

Traditional and contemporary piupiu making techniques are currently used, and a number of Māori Art and Craft training providers throughout Aotearoa provide piupiu making as a part of their curriculum.

Furthermore, piupiu are worn at the official Matatini Kapa Haka Festival which is a major New Zealand event.

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 471-9724'


An enquiry by a local artist concerning Te Waihorotiu revealed some very interesting information about this tipuna arawai/ancestral waterway of Ngāti Whātua, now known as the Ligar canal. This, too, was an emotive research experience and one I aim to explore further in 2017.

Check out the following online links from Auckland Libraries' online databases for more information about this historic Auckland waterway.
Heritage Images
NZ Card Index

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-400


An Iwi based research enquiry regarding Awheto or the Vegetable Caterpillar fungus was also fascinating. The numerous Māori names given to it (awato, awheto, hawato, hawhato, horuhoru, hotete, ngutara, and nutara) certainly add to the mystery of this most unusual fungus. Unfortunately the Porina moth is prey to this unforgiving species.

Transactions New Zealand Institute, Vol. XXVII, Pl. VIII

Author: Maata - Research Central