Kia ora tatou
Ko Tararua toku maunga
Ko Otaki toku awa
Ko Tainui toku waka
Ko Ngati Raukawa toku iwi
Ko Te Pou o Tainui toku marae
No Raetihi Ahau
Ko Mead toku Whanau
Ko Rebecca Toku Ingoa
Ben and Rebecca both come from large families, our ancestors have all travelled to New Zealand, some on their waka eventually settling at our Marae in Otaki, others generations later in ships from Scotland, Denmark and Norway.
We have grown up very proud of all of our heritage, living in small rural towns through the Central North Island and Whanganui as children gave us an opportunity to learn from people and helped shape us into who we are today. Both of us grew up alongside the Whanganui River, as a small child I remember often finding Native Skinks along the river bank in Aramoho Whanganui, Ben’s family own the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge. His teen years were spent exploring the Whanganui National Park, and helping with pest control.
As a child my first couple of years at school were in Rural Taranaki in a bilingual class, where we mainly spoke Maori. My first few years at school were a really gentle easing into the Education system, with lots of korero, waiata, aroha, manaakitanga and whanaunatanga.
Throughout my education I continued to connect with my roots, learning Maori throughout High School, and after that two more years at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
As a mother, teaching my children about their whakapapa has been incredibly important, and it has been really beautiful living in Rural New Zealand and watching our children participate in Kapa Haka, and learning about their connection to the Earth. Being able to show them not only their Maori Whakapapa, but also connecting our lifestyle today to that of our Great grandparents, who helped grow Tourism, Ski Fields, mapping the Whanganui River. We are also really lucky to be able to employ my parents, and work really closely with Bens family on the Whanganui River too.
As business owners, we live quite simply, raising animals on our land, and learning to take care of our land/papatuanuku. We feel a responsibility to leave our land better than it was when we arrived here. We are committed to Predator Free New Zealand. We have planted an orchard, and we are planting Native trees too. We ask our guests to bring back leftover food, and we will feed it to our animals. We manage our waste, and try to turn as much as we can into something usable.
Kaitiakitanga means guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering. We are in an amazing position to be able to look after our own land, and also encourage visitors to look after the land as they paddle down the Whanganui River.
Our guides that paddle down the Whanganui River have lived here for generations, nearly all of our guides have Iwi connections to the Whanganui River. Before their trips they share a special Karakia (prayer) and as they paddle down the awa they share stories and reflect their own views about their time on the Whanganui River.
Even if you are not paddling with a guide, you can still experience a taste of the Maori Culture on your Whanganui River Canoes Trip. Staying at Tieke gives you a chance to experience a Powhiri/welcoming. This doesn’t happen every day, but is really beautiful when you do get to experience it. Have a think about learning your Pepeha so you can share it during your stay. Puraroto Campground is also a really unique place to stay along the river, with an opportunity to book a Hangi meal for larger groups.