Many hats, and a mean Māori citizen

This is Te Puni Kokiri Pouwhakahaere Hemana Eruera Manuera; hardworking, passionate about his mahi and a little bit of cheekiness thrown in to boot.

Upon meeting Hemana Eruera, he is busily whittling away on his work laptop and answering his cell phone at the same time.

Matua Hemana is Pouwhakahaere at Te Puni Kōkiri, and is part of the Waikato-Waiariki regional team; he is one point on a network of pouwhakahaere at Te Puni Kōkiri offices across the motu.

His is a role described elsewhere as ‘kaumātua’ or ‘Māori cultural advisor’ – and a stranger could be forgiven if they expected to meet an elder who was something between Gandalf and Socrates.

Hemana laughs heartily and genuinely on the phone, suggesting the person he is talking to could be one of his whanaunga. As he gestures toward me to come sit down beside him, I glance at his laptop screen and notice that he is working on a power point presentation for a wānanga he will be facilitating for staff of Te Puni Kōkiri. It looks quite technical and I can tell he has put a lot of work into it as he allows me to scroll through his presentation.

Once off his phone, he asks pointing toward the laptop screen: “He aha au whakaaro?” I reply as only I can “Kei runga noa atu e te rangatira – that’s awesome!” He gives me a cheeky wink and a big wide grin.

When I ask his age, purely for research purposes, his response is a chuckle, a shake of the head and an exhaled “no, no, no”. Āe rā Matua – age ain’t nothing but a number. Regardless of the count on the odometer, his is the energy of a hardworking man who is clearly very comfortable with the technology at his disposal.

This is Hemana Eruera Manuera; hardworking, passionate about his mahi and a little bit of sass thrown in to boot. He is an obvious ‘people’s person’ or ‘person of the peoples’, and for the past nine years has served as a Pouwhakahaere for Te Puni Kōkiri.

Hemana reminisces about his humble beginnings in the small community of Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty. When asked about his upbringing in te Reo Māori, he says he was fortunate to be surrounded by the language at home with his parents and whānau, in the community, on the marae, and at school.

As a primer at Te Teko Native School, Hemana was reprimanded and strapped for speaking te Reo. Hemana went home and told his father, the late Eruera Manuera, also Chair of the school board. Any hopes for his father’s sympathy were crushed: as far as his father could see, he was at school to be educated in the Pākehā education system, and Hemana had been punished for not following the rules.

Hemana took from the experience a life lesson, drawn from his father’s words: “Those type of marae (schools) are governed by Pākehā rules. If they (school staff) come to your marae, then the rules are different and on your terms.”

Eruera Senior understood the importance of mainstream education for the future development of his son, for so long as the connections to his marae, his community, and his whānau remained strong, he would never lose his taha Māori.

Hemana went to St Stephen’s (Hato Tipene) College, in south Bombay Hills, as a legacy student following in his father’s footsteps, as his three sons would later follow in his.

A photo of Eruera Manuera, and Hemana with his sons – three generations of Tipene men together in their school regalia – hangs in the papakāinga where Hemana and his wife Herataimai, and whānau reside at Otamaoa, Te Teko. It has pride of place in their home, as it did in the heart of Eruera, who said “He whakaahua ātaahua tērā”.

At Tipene, Hemana says that alongside Latin, he also learnt to speak English. He had left Te Teko with what he referred to as ‘Te Manu Kererū Pākehā’ or Pidgin English. “That was the way we spoke, and we were too whakamā to speak English.”

Following secondary school, and undecided on his future career path, Hemana returned to Te Teko to help his father milk cows. His first job was a cadetship for the NZ State Hydro in the Edgecumbe Power Sub-Station. He later transferred as a Linesman erecting pylons and transmission lines from Edgecumbe to Whakamaru Dam, connecting towns and cities with remote hydroelectric schemes.

When he met and married ‘he putiputi nō Ngāti Porou’ Herataimai (nee Koia), he sought mahi which would enable him and his wife, who was a teacher, to settle down. He found what he was looking for at the Kawerau Pulp and Paper Mill – where he worked for 36 years. In his final decade at the Mill, he was a kaiāwhina providing confidential support to staff through a specifically designed assistance programme that he set up.

His natural empathy for people – manaaki i te tangata – would carry on in subsequent roles, which would include working for Ngāti Awa Social Health Service, and later at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Health and Safety and Asset Management.

Following organisational change at the wānanga, Hemana hoped to pursue his angling ambitions. He was training as a Community Magistrate when he met the Regional Director, and Pouwhakahaere to the former Te Puni Kōkiri region Te Moana a Toi.

“They knew about all of the previous mahi I had done for other organisations and I was surprised they knew so much about me.” Hemana assumed that they had sourced the information from Te tupuna Kūkara.

Hemana leans in a little, his eyes tighten as he asks: “Kei te mōhio koe ko wai a Kūkara?” I shake my head and shrug my shoulders, making plain a look of utter confusion on my face. Hemana moves closer to me and offers “Google”. There is a little pause, and we both erupt into laughter.

As one of the more recent additions, Hemana considers himself the ‘pōtiki’ of the Pouwhakahaere whānau. When asked to name a special memory during his time so far at Te Puni Kōkiri, a smile spreads across his face, indicating the satisfaction he enjoyed when he provided cultural support for the Governor General Sir Jerry Mataparae at Hamilton Girls High School where his mokopuna were students.

“Our mokopuna were able to get a photo with us, her kuia and koro, and the Governor General one day, and the next day at a poukai in Tainui they took a photo with us and the Māori King, Te Arikinui Kīngi Tuheitia.”

Hemana told his mokopuna: “E moko, the photos may not be of significance to you now; in time when you study leadership, those will be of greater value, particularly because its two prominent Māori leaders.”

Hemana says the role of a pouwhakahaere is like wearing multiple hats for the organisation. He is an advisor, a mentor, an orator, a friend and someone who provides support in all areas of Te Ao Māori throughout Te Puni Kōkiri. He loves and enjoys his job, and as we both look over the power point presentation he has prepared, Hemana reckons that the wānanga he will facilitate for staff will provide some insight into who the pouwhakahaere are and what they do.

As we are about to finish our interview and I flick through a number of the slides that show pictures of each of the pouwhakahaere and their respective post-nominals such as JP (Justice of the Peace) and PhD. There is a slide showing a title that I don’t recognise above Hemana’s picture, so I ask what the initials MC mean? He has a little laugh and at that point I know we are about to finish the way we started, with some sort of hardcase Hemana-ism. Hemana says: “You know the yellow markings on the road in the town carparks that say MC, what does that mean?” I reply “Motorcycle?” “Kāore, I think it means for Māori Citizens only.”

He chuckles some more and says, “MC after my name does not mean that I’m a Master of Ceremonies, or a Māori Comedian.” With deft delivery, the real answer comes out: “It means I’m a Marriage Celebrant, and a mean Māori Citizen. I like to throw that into my presentations because it’s a good talking point as an ice breaker. Hei whakamahana me te hiki i te wairua o te tangata!”

By Aaron Munro


Hēmana Eruera – ngā pōtae-rau o te kirirarau Māori

I te wā tuatahi ka tutaki au ki a Hēmana Eruera, he patopato rorohiko me te kōrero waea pūkoro tāna mahi.

He Pouwhakahaere a Matua Hēmana mā Te Puni Kōkiri, i te rohe o Waikato-Waiariki. Ko ia tētahi o te kāhui pouwhakahaere e mahi ana i ngā tari o Te Puni Kōkiri huri noa te motu.

E karangahia ana ko te tūranga tēnei a te ‘kaumātua’ a te ‘kaitakawaenga Māori’ rānei. Heoi anō, ko ngā āhuatanga o tēnei kaumātua kei roto kē i te kōrero a tōna iwi, e mea ana ‘Ngāti Awa te toki, e kore e tangatanga i te rā’.

Ka rangona tōna pukukata i a ia e kōrero ana i te waea. Ānō nei he whanaunga tata rāua ko tōna hoa kōrero. Ka pōhiri mai ia kia noho atu au ki tōna taha. Ka tiro atu au ki te mata o tāna rorohiko kawe ka kite i tētahi whakaaturanga ā-rorohiko mō tētahi wānanga ka whakahaeretia e ia mā ngā kaimahi o Te Puni Kōkiri.  Ka tohu mai ia he pai noa iho taku tiro-haere i tāna whakaaturanga. He hōhonu ngā kōrero o roto, he mārama te kite atu i te nui o tāna mahi ki te whakarite i tēnei kaupapa.

Ka mutu tāna kōrero ā-waea, ka tohu atu ia ki te mata o te rorohiko kawe, “He aha ō whakaaro?” Māmā noa iho taku whakahoki atu, “Kei runga noa atu, e te rangatira!” Ka whakakini mai ia, ka pakiri mai ngā niho.

He  koroua pukumahi tēnei. He mātau anō hoki ki te rāwekeweke i ngā taputapu hangarau a te ao hurihuri. Ka ui atu au ki a ia mō tōna pakeke, ka tīhohehohe, ka rūrū te mahunga. He hamumu noa tana whakautu, “Kāo, kāo, kāo.” Āe, rā e te Matua – he tau noa iho te tau.

Ko Hēmana Eruera Manuera tēnei; he pukumahi, he ngākau hihiko, he taha nanakia anō hoki tōna. Kāore he hapa he ‘tangata mō te tangata’, he ‘tangata nō te tangata’ hoki tēnei. Kua 9 tau ia e mahi ana hei Pouwhakahaere ki Te Puni Kōkiri.

Ka whakahoki mahara a Hēmana mō tōna whakatipuranga mai i te hapori paku o Te Teko, i te rohe o Te Moana-a-Toi. Ka uiuia mō te reo Māori i te wā e tamariki ana a ia, ko tāna whakahoki mai he māringanui nōna ko te reo Māori te reo i te kāinga o ōna mātua rātou ko ōna whanaunga, waihoki, i te hapori, i te marae me te kura.

I tōna itinga, i te kura o Te Teko Native School, ka kōhetetia ka whiua hoki a ia mō te kōrero Māori. Ka hoki a Hēmana ki te kāinga, ka whākina tēnei take ki tōna pāpā, ki a Eruera Manuera, ko ia tonu te Heamana o te poari o te kura. Heoi anō, kāore tōna pāpā i aroha atu ki te raruraru o tana tamaiti. Ki tāna, e kuraina ana ia ki te mātauranga o te Pākehā. Kua hāmentia a Hēmana i te mea kāore ia i te whai i ngā ture a te kura.

Otirā, he akoranga kei roto i te whakamārama a tōna Pāpā ki a ia. “Nō te Pākehā aua momo marae (ngā kura), nā rātou hoki ngā ture. Heoi, ki te haere mai rātou (ngā kaimahi a te kura) ki tō marae, he rerekē anō ngā ture.”

E mārama ana ki tōna Pāpā he mea hira tonu mā tana tamaiti te mātauranga o te Pākehā i taua wā. E kore hoki e ngaro tōna taha Māori mehemea e kaha tonu ana ngā here ki tōna marae, ki tōna hapori me tōna whānau.

Nō muri mai, ka haere a Hēmana ki te Kāreti o Hato Tīpene i te tonga o Tāmakimakaurau. He tino ākonga ia ki reira, pērā ki tōna pāpā i mua i a ia, ā, tae noa rā ki āna anō tama.

Kei ngā pakitara o tōna papakāinga, kei Ōtamaoa i Te Teko,  tētahi whakaahua o ngā reanga e toru o tōna whānau e mau ana i ō rātou kākahu ā-kura. Ko te kāinga tēnei o rāua ko tōna hoa wahine, ko Herataimai. Ka rongo au i te mahana o ōna whakaaro mō tōna whānau i tāna kōhumuhumu ake,“He whakaahua ātaahua tērā.”

Ka whāki mai a Hēmana i ako ia i te reo Rātini me te reo Ingarihi ki te kura tuarua o Tīpene. Nōna i Te Teko, ko tōna reo Ingarihi, ko te reo o ‘te manu kererū Pākehā’ kē, arā, ko te ‘Pidgin English’. “Koia nā tō mātou reo. Whakamā katoa mātou ki te kōrero Ingarihi,” tāna kī.

Ka mutu te kura tuarua, i runga anō i tōna kore mōhio ki te huarahi mahi e tika ana māna, ka hoki a Hēmana ki te miraka kau i te taha o tōna pāpā ki Te Teko. He tūranga tauira tōna tūranga mahi tuatahi mā te NZ State Hydro i te Wharepupuri Hiko o Edgecombe. Kātahi ka riro i a ia te tūranga o te Kaimahi Pouhiko e whakatū ana i ngā pouhiko me ngā whakawhitinga hiko mai i Edgecumbe ki te matatara o Whakamaru, he tūhonohono i ngā tāone ki ngā whatunga hiko ā-wai te mahi.

Ka moe ia ki tana ‘putiputi nō Ngāti Porou’, ko Herataimai Koia tōna ingoa, ka huri a Hēmana ki te kimi mahi hou māna kia whai kāinga noho tūturu rāua. He kaiako tōna hoa wahine. I kite a Hēmana i tētahi tūranga pai māna ki te Mīra o Kawerau. E 36 tau a ia e mahi ana i te mīra. I ngā 10 tau whakamutunga, he kaiāwhina tāna mahi, arā, nāna  ētahi kaupapa tautoko i whakatū mā ngā kaimahi a te mīra.

He tangata manaaki a Hēmana. Nā whai anō, ka riro i a ia ētahi tūranga manaaki tangata i te whare hauora o Tohu o te Ora o Ngāti Awa me Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Ka huri ngā tau, ka huri hoki ngā whakahaere i Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, ka whakaaro ake a Hēmana ko te hī ika pea te mahi pai māna. Heoi, i a ia e whai ana i tāna tohu Kaiwhakawā ā-Hapori ka tutaki a ia ki  te Kaiwhakahaere ā-rohe me te Pouwhakahaere o Te Puni Kōkiri, nō te rohenga e kīia ana ko Te Moana-a-Toi i taua wā.

 “He mōhio kē rāua ki āku mahi o mua i roto i ngā whakahaere maha. Ka ohorere au i tērā,” Kātahi ka whakaaro ake a Hēmana, nō te tīpuna, nō Kūkara kē pea tō rāua mōhio ki a ia.

Ka whakatata mai a Hēmana, ka hāngai tāna titiro ki a au ka pātai mai, “Kei te mōhio rānei koe ko wai a Kūkara?” Ka rūrū au i tōku mahunga, ka hikina ōku pokohiwi, he mārama te kitenga mai o te pōauau i tōku kanohi. Ka whakatata mai anō a Hēmana, ka kī mai “Ko ‘Google’.” Ka noho ngū māua, kātahi ka pakaru mai te kata.

Ki tā Hēmana, i te mea nō nātata noa nei tana tū hei Pouwhakahaere, ko ia te ‘pōtiki’ o te kāhui pouwhakahaere. Ka ui atu au mō tētahi o ōna tino maharatanga mō te wā i a ia i Te Puni Kōkiri. Ka menemene mai ia i tōna koa mō te wā i arahina te Kāwana Tianara, a Tā Jerry Matapārae e ia ki te kura o āna mokopuna, arā, ki te Kura Tuarua o ngā Kōhine o Hāmutana.

“I whakaahuahia mātou ko ngā mokopuna me te Kāwana Tianara i taua rangi, ā, i te rangi whai muri mai i whakaahuatia anō mātou me te Kīngi Māori Te Arikinui Kīngi Tūheitia ki tētahi o ngā poukai o Tainui.”

Ko tā Hēmana ki āna mokopuna, “He whakaahua noa iho pea ēnei ki a koe i tēnei wā, heoi, ka huri ngā tau ka mārama ki a koe te nui o aua rangatira e rua.”

Ka pātaihia a Hēmana ki te whakamārama mai i te tūranga o te pouwhakahaere ka whakaaro a ia, ā, ko tāna whakautu he maha ōna pōtae i tēnei whakahaere. He kaitohutohu, he kaiārahi, he kaikōrero, he kaitautoko anō hoki. Ko tāna mahi he hāpai i ngā āhuatanga katoa o te ao Māori i Te Puni Kōkiri. Ki tāna, e ngākaunui ana ia ki tāna mahi. Ka tiro haere māua i tāna whakaaturanga, ko tā Hēmana ki a au, ka mārama ake ngā kaimahi ki ngā mahi a ngā Pouwhakahaere hei te wānanga ka whakahaeretia e ia e tū mai nei.

Kua tata mutu tā māua uiui, ka kite atu au i ngā whakaahua o ngā pouwhakahaere i tāna whakaaturanga me ā rātou tohu tautoko, pērā i te JP, i te PhD rānei. Ka kite atu au i tētahi whakarāpopototanga tauhou i te taha o tōna ingoa, nā, ka pātai atu au ki a ia mō te tohu ‘MC’. Ka kata anō a ia, ka mārama rawa au he kōrero nanakia e haere mai ana. Ka kī a Hēmana, “Kei te mōhio rānei koe ki ngā tohu i te rori, i ngā tūranga waka rānei e mea ana ‘MC’? He aha te tikanga o tērā?”

Ka whakautu atu au. “Ko te motorcycle?”

“Kāore, ko te ‘Māori Citizen’ kē ki a au.” Ka tīhohehohe anō te tangata nei, kātahi ka kī mai. “Ka pōhēhē ētahi ko te Master of Ceremonies, ko te Māori Comedian rānei te whakamārama o taua tohu. Heoi anō, ko te Marriage Celebrant kē – me te mean Māori Citizen. E tohu ana tērā kua whai au i tāku tohu Marriage Celebrant. He pai ki ahau te whakauru atu i aua kōrero ki aku whakaaturanga, hei whakakōrero noa i te tangata. Hei whakamahana me te hiki i te wairua o te tangata!”