Healthy Families Rotorua systems innovators Stevee Wikiriwhi and Teteira Ormsby discovered some gems during their research haerenga at Waitawa Puna last week.
The pair mapped the puna from Owhatiura, through Lynmore, and towards Lake Rotorua as part of the Waitawa Restoration Project, which Stevee is leading. She will be fostering relationships with mana whenua, hapū, strategic partners and government agencies, along with local kura, kohanga reo, and businesses for collective impact.
Stevee says the restoration project is about activating community responsiveness to transform the local wai system and restore the mauri of the wai and whenua.
“When we returned to the office after our haerenga, it was really cool to connect the photos we took with the findings on our maps, including the little heritage sites we found along the way,” says Stevee.
Teteira said the haerenga was a journey of unearthing whakapapa.
“It really highlighted how valuable research is before physically putting yourself in the research location. We found things you probably wouldn’t find in a book or any documents.
“We saw some of those man-made artifacts, which led to more questions about when and why they were built, and if they were built on top of the puna. So, we went there informed but the haerenga surfaced a lot more questions, which was really good for Stevee’s research,” says Teteira.
Stevee is meeting with Ngāti Hurunga te Rangi this weekend to engage with iwi and co-design opportunities to enable Māori ownership in this space.
“We think the answers will be with the iwi as a collective because the various iwi surrounding the puna have their own pūrākau and they all have their own identity,” says Stevee.