Miriama (Tilly) Turner reflects on earlier stages of the river. She feels the current generation is in a position to do something about the river’s degraded state. Tilly is skilled in the creation of taonga from natural materials such as flax and is a daughter of the late Iti Rangihinemutu Rawiri, a skilled weaver and korowai artist.
I think about the days that we had when we were kids and, you know, the amount of fish that our parents caught and how much life we had next to it, and at that stage, it was less than what my parents had, you know. But when I look at it now, all I think about is I'd love it to be… get to a healthy situation where it’s going to be good for the future.
I suppose just because we’re doing the sort of work that we’re doing, that makes me feel there’s hope. But I’m quite saddened by the look of the river, by how piro it is. Really it is piro, especially when you do the tira hou, you realise the differences, the degradation gets worse and worse as it goes down, but at least we're in a generation that can do something about it. We’ve got politicians and local councils listening. Everybody’s listening. So we're in a better position than we were in my parents’ time, to do anything you know. And I think the challenge probably is now is to get more buy-in from now the next generation that is coming up, which is my kids.
My mother was born on the river, and she was telling me that a lot of her experiences were right there. She remembered the times when, during the epidemic I think she was talking about, and how, as a child, she would hear them doing a karanga on the river, and they knew instantly, she knew there was tūpāpaku coming up the river. So to me, as she was telling us that story, cause she reckons that her grandfather died that way, and they pulled in. This waka came up, they put him onto it and off they went, but she was only a little girl. From that point on, she understood what the karanga was about. That was one of her earlier memories of what went on the river in those days.
Miriama (Tilly) Turner
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.