Norman Hill talks about the days before the conception of the Huntly Power Station. He relates how the people were connected to the land, lakes, streams, the river and with each other. Somehow, over time, that connection was lost – until recently. Norman talks about the people reconnecting to the environment that their ancestors were connected to.
The Huntly Power Station was born out of a concept of the late Sir Robert Muldoon – the Think Big scheme in 1973.
They identified this particular site here as a key site for the establishment of a power station. Prior to that, this whole area was populated with papa kāinga and a village called Rakumangamanga. This very site here was called Lucky’s Corner. Lucky’s Corner was identified as a site where our people gathered, they swam in the river, they washed their clothes, they horse raced in the river, they did waka ama racing and they connected with each other. My kaumātua have told me that the river was their local PAK’nSAVE.
We have a significant marae, Waahi Pā, literally in the shadow of a power station. It was established mai rānō – in the days of old – for the purposes of chartering the Kīngitanga movement, and the people of the marae felt that the power station was an intrusion on the cultural values of our local people. At that time, there was also the first native school in New Zealand in the area, Rakumangamanga Native School.
So prior to the power station, this was a vibrant holistic community made up of our people. The connection with the land, the connection with our sacred and significant marae here – Waahi – the lakes, the streams, the river and all the resources that the river provided to our people.
It was also a medium that transitioned knowledge from one generation to the next generation because the river was seen as a place where our people connected, and it was an opportunity for our kaumātua to teach the younger generation the benefits of providing food to manaaki, our people, and to provide food to manaaki, our visitors, in the area.
So what we’ve been doing in recent times is reconnecting with our land, and this is a fantastic example here. Te Ahurei is a sculpture that represents te mana or te whenua and the raupatu that was signed in 1995 by Waikato-Tainui. And it represents our connection to our land here in Huntly and within the wider Waikato tribal boundaries. So we have an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that our young generation are connected to the river, to their land and their streams and the natural environment which their parents and their ancestors were connected to.
Robert Muldoon. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1983/4156-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23196315
Site for Huntly Power Station. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-72282-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23018768
Waikato River at Huntly. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-55398-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23159095
James Cowan, The Māori, yesterday and today. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1930, p. 85
Pupils displaying their work outside the Kāwhia Native School. New Zealand Department of Māori Affairs: Māori School Picture Book. Ref: 1/2-038443-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22879194
Pupils and teachers at a school for Māori children, location unidentified. Duncan, Miriam D, fl 1977: Photographs relating to life and work of Dr James Malcolm Mason. Ref: 1/2-077123-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23248454
Group of Māori children. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948: Collection of post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-001926-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22782356
Some Māori boys playing on a tree stump in the river, Waikato. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-12559-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23162349
Māori children playing in the river, Waikato. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-12538-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22547115
Beattie & Sanderson (Firm). Beattie & Sanderson, 1897–1900: Prime Minister John Seddon, Māori King Mahuta Tawhiao, and others during a Māori land meeting at Waahi Pa, Waikato. Ref: PA7-01-39. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23181243
Waka, Waikato River. New Zealand Railways: Assorted photographs. Ref: 1/2-023781-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23084364
The Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development acknowledges the financial support given by the Waikato River Cleanup Trust Fund which is administered by the Waikato River Authority.
The Waikato River Cleanup Trust does not necessarily endorse or support the content of the publication in any way.