Kai Waho first hand, April 2010
Driving the well worn and rugged 4WD track to Tamau Pa set the scene for the visit. By the time we arrived at the waharoa, or entrance to the Pa, we felt like we had reached wilderness. The landscape is stunning – vast sub alpine shrub lands surrounding the deeply incised canyon, cut by the sparkling Ripia River.
Staying at Tamau Pa with Tom was a special experience even though we already knew him well and understood the background to the Kai waho experience. Kai waho can be translated as 'outdoor cuisine' but the experience is way more than just food. It is about the connection with the land and how to live with what the land offers. The respect shown to Tuwharetoa ancestors is significant and tends to put things into perspective.
Sam (9) and Georgia (7) had a ball. Sleeping in a comfortable whare without electricity was an experience in itself - and that was before the possum visited during the night and Tom’s “wild” pig came for eleven’s the next day. Sam and Tom went for an early morning hunt - though if they were talking as much throughout the hunt as they were when they got back, the Sika deer were in no danger! Tom’s “sneaking like a ninja” tactics impressed Sam, although 'puffing like a train' might have been a better description by the time they had climbed back up out of the Ripia. Georgia slept in and then enjoyed a bush walk after the sun finally broke through the mist, before feeding the “wild pig” some bread.
Spending time with Tom at Tamau Pa is fantastic fun, with plenty to laugh about. Beneath the humour Tom is incredibly good at sharing the history of the Tuwharetoa people and their customs and practices - particularly in relation to the collection and preparation of food, which was so significant to Maori survival. It made quite an impression. Sam said “Tom was a great guy who always had a trick up his sleeve for everything”. He was not wrong there! We all had fun, shared an incredible experience and wanted to learn more.