Clutha River’s stories shared in videos

The lower reaches of the Clutha River connect a series of new videos celebrating the cultural history of the area, iwi member Ruth Baldwin says.

Videos telling stories of the area were launched at the Te Pou ō Mata-Au Clutha District War Memorial & Community Centre in Balclutha last week.

Showing a photo of their ancestor, chief Haimona Rakiraki Waitaha Kaitahu, are (from left) iwi...
Showing a photo of their ancestor, chief Haimona Rakiraki Waitaha Kaitahu, are (from left) iwi representative Ruth Baldwin, of Balclutha and her cousins Alan Rakiraki, of Oamaru, and Tam Scott, of Kaka Point, in Balclutha last week. PHOTOS: SHAWN MACAVINUE
Waitaha Kai Tahu iwi representative Ruth Baldwin said about 80 people attended the event.

"It was a brilliant, heartwarming experience."

The "revival" of the stories was important as it helped people understand about the past kaitiaki (guardians) of the river.

"It was our highway, it was our food source, so anything to do water health and water care is very important to us — we still get our kahawai at the mouth of the river."

The idea for the videos was born from her involvement with Otago South River Care, a collective of farmer-led catchment groups in Clutha, Mrs Baldwin said.

Chief Haimona Rakiraki was a frequent user of the Clutha River in South Otago.
Chief Haimona Rakiraki was a frequent user of the Clutha River in South Otago.
As an iwi representative for Otago South River Care, she took group members on a cultural tour of significant places in the rohe (area) including the Clutha River.

"Our awa is very significant to us."

Other tour stops included Lake Tuakitoto, Measley Beach, Molyneux Bay and an urupa, a Maori cemetery at Kaka Point.

Otago South River Care wanted to document the culutural stories in three videos.

The first video focuses on the tragedy at Measley Beach, when the men in a flotilla of nine waka, died after contracting measles.

Her great great great grandfather, chief Haimona Rakiraki, of Molyneux Bay, features in the second video.

Rakiraki was a nomadic hunter-gatherer in the area up to the mid 1870s.

The chief’s family activities on and around the river included catching eels and fish and growing potatoes on Inch Clutha.

"His whānau were a common sight on the Clutha River."

The story of ancient village Murikauhaka in Port Molyneux is told in the third video.

"We are telling our story and bringing our whānau together."

The stories highlighted the respectful trade relationships in the area.

"The European settlers and my people worked together well."

Otago South River Care co-ordinator Craig Simpson, of Mosgiel, said the videos were made from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

Otago South River Care co-ordinator Craig Simpson, of Mosgiel, is part of a team behind a series...
Otago South River Care co-ordinator Craig Simpson, of Mosgiel, is part of a team behind a series of videos showcasing the cultural history of the Clutha River.
The motivation was to share the cultural history of the Clutha River, highlight its significance and the need for respect.

Otago South River Care’s aim is to engage communities to protect and enhance water quality through seven catchment groups: Wawera-Kaihiku, Owaka-Tahakopa, Tuapeka-Waitahuna, Puerua-Waitapeka, Lake-Tuakitoto, Clutha Lowlands and Tokomariro.

shawn.mcavinue@alliedpress.co.nz

 

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