Whakahokia te mauri o Oporoa celebrates the commitment of Rangitīkei iwi to enhancing the life force and ecological health of Lake Oporoa. Ngāti Hauiti kaumātua Neville Lomax draws upon oral history in recounting the journey taken by Matangi — an early Māori explorer who traversed and named places in the Rangitīkei. Following the flightpath of a huge flock of tūī, Matangi came upon Lake Oporoa — located close to the Rangitīkei River. Two of his children remain in the lake as kaitiaki (spiritual guardians), taking form as raupō (Typha) floating in search of the taonga (treasure) located within.
Partnering with Ngā Puna Rau o Rangitīkei, Lakes380 scientists have analysed lakebed sediment cores taken from Oporoa, producing a reconstruction of the lake’s environmental history through to its present degraded state. For manawhenua, imagining the future of Oporoa resembling the abundance of life in which Matangi encountered it is only possible through renewing cultural and social connections and with full knowledge of the lake’s ecological health.
The significance of raupō in oral history and its presence in the environmental history of the lake, as identified through analysis of the sediment core, provides a unique opportunity to explore the weaving of knowledges through its material, spiritual and cultural uses.