Walking Where Ancestors Once Walked

Maurice Manawatu

Maurice Manawatu belongs to the Ngāi Tahu hapū of Ngāti Kuri who arrived in Kaikōura many generations ago and married into the original peoples.

Words by: Petra Nyman

Photography by: Nancy Zhou 

For 17 years Maurice Manawatu owned and ran Māori Tours Kaikōura together with his wife Heather. They took visitors around the area to visit places of significance, sharing their knowledge and history of the area. “It included a morning or afternoon tea followed by a native forest walk looking at the plants and trees and their medicinal value to us.”

A year after the Kaikōura earthquake a cultural assessment group was formed to look at the cultural impacts of the event. Maurice was nominated by the Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura to be a part of the group, and it was from this group that the Cultural Artwork Package, which includes some 20 sites of cultural significance along State Highway 1 that showcase local history and stunning cultural artworks, came to be.

Today Maurice works for the Ngai Tahu Archives, splitting his time between Kaikōura and Christchurch. “When in Kaikōura I spend my time catching up on lawns and whānau,” he says. His favourite thing about Kaikōura is to be able to walk where his ancestors once walked. “When people come to Kaikōura the main focus is the ocean, but we have some great forest walks that may surprise a lot of people.”

When asked how he would describe Kaikōura, Maurice replies: “There is a Ngāi Tahu saying Ki uta ki tai meaning from the mountains to the sea. That would be the best way to describe Kaikōura.”

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