Continuing family’s role in rununga

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Willing to help . . . Enjoying the space at the Hokonui Runanga on Charlton Rd is education tutor and cultural advisor Matu Coleman-Clarke. PHOTO: VALU MAKA

Knowledge is not knowledge unless you share it, Hokonui Runanga education tutor and cultural adviser Matu Coleman-Clarke says.

His job with the organisation had provided him with many opportunities to do that within the community.

“I wear a couple of hats within the Hokonui Runanga. First and foremost I am a teacher aide and I also help out as a cultural adviser.”

His roles within the Hokonui Runanga were not restricted to the education sector but could vary on some occasions , he said.

He had worked alongside multiple schools and different organisations as the cultural adviser.

The role comprised of blessings, working with kapa haka groups or helping environmental organisations with anything in the cultural sector.

His family had been involved with the runanga since it was founded about 25 years ago.

“My grandmother was the kaumatua for this place on the board. Our whanau has been heavily involved with this place since its conception.”

It was encouraging to see the impact of the runanga in the community, he said.

“It’s slow but it’s happening, especially with teaching. Students and teachers will come up to me and say ‘kia ora’ – all these little things pick you up when you hear them say hello in Maori.”

He was proud to see teachers and organisations learning about the history of the district, as well as introducing te reo Maori into their lives.

“Over the years I’ve worked here I’ve seen people’s perception towards te reo Maori change and we have been able to utilise the Hokonui Runanga space for the community which brings about conversations.”

Maori culture was a big part of his life and had helped him in various situations, he said.

“Kapa haka has got me through some of the hardest times in my life because of the fact that you can express your emotions and let it out or vent. It allowed me to express myself through words and emotions.

“Also, writing was another big one because then you can turn it into a waiata [song].”