Charlotte Grieve, Landscape Architect at Thomas Consultants, shares her thoughts around the intersection between mana whenua and our Landscape Architecture practice.
To celebrate Matariki festival this weekend, which signals us entering the Māori new year, we think it is a good opportunity to reflect on how we are currently partnering, engaging and working with mana whenua on our current landscape projects.
This last year we have been working with mana whenua across several projects, namely for council and government.
It is an enriching process working with mana whenua, as they are the kaitiaki (guardians) of the whenua (land). Mana whenua can educate us on what has been before and open our eyes to what is there now. As is with Matariki festival, mana whenua are very in tune with the seasons and natural cycles specific to Aotearoa.
When it comes to design, mana whenua can guide us on our projects, highlight what is important about a site, what to consider, what to protect, and what to enhance. They can educate us of past stories and uses associated with a site, helping to weave a narrative into the design.
An recent example of working with mana whenua on a projectis on Observation Green with Te Kawerau a Maki, represented by Edward Ashby. Te Kawerau a Maki are one of the iwi associated with the Hobsonville area in the North-West of Auckland. Ed was able to advise us on the past horticultural uses of the land at Scotts Point. Some of his stories stemmed even further back than that, stories of different iwi travelling through this area.
As something tangible to show of our partnership with Te Kawerau a Maki, together with Ed we were able to come up with a kumara vine stencil design for the park, to reference Te Kawerau a Maki. In Ed’s own words, ”The kumara vine speaks to the past horticultural (Māori and European) practices in the area, the whakapapa linkages between whanau to this whenua, and also is a soft symbol of Te Kawerau a Maki.” The partnership went beyond the stencil, into specifying native plant species of the area, and other practices important to mana whenua, but the stencil is a physical symbol of the partnership on the project.
Working with mana whenua brings a richness to the projects and ensures that they are meaningful and connected.
To find out more on Matariki festival and what is happing across Auckland this coming weekend, please refer to Auckland Council’s website HERE.
Feel free to also explore this article from Auckland Council or 9 ways to celebrate Matariki. The ninth way is wish upon a whetū. Matariki encourages us to look to the future. In our local community, right near our offices at the Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson, manuhiri can write down a wish to Hiwa-i-te-Rangi, the youngest whetū (star) in the cluster and tie it to the whai (string game) installation by artist Penny Howard. At a dawn ceremony to mark the end of Matariki on July 16, the wishes will be burned and sent up to Hiwa to mark the new year.