EPISODE SUMMARY: On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism we visit the Ranga-Bidois whānau of Waikato-Tainui, who have bought back their ancestral land in Ngāruawāhia and have worked together as a whānau to re-establish papakāinga.
GUESTS: Trevor Ranga, Poppy Ranga
Jade Kake: Ngāruawāhia. Heart of the Waikato, and home of the Kīngitanga. Today, Waikato-Tainui is known as one of the most prosperous iwi in the country, but it hasn’t always been this way. The raupatu or confiscation of millions of acres of tribal territory during the land wars of the 1860s, saw the tribe become almost landless in their own rohe.
Trevor Ranga: For us, being raupatu land, it’s about us gaining back what was lost, so the whenua, and everything that comes with the whenua, all the learnings, all the skills that were developing to help our family to become leaders in this field.
Poppy Ranga: Papakāinga for me is about us looking after each other so that we can look after others, and also it's about tuku iho. So, this land found us as far as I'm concerned. So we're now looking after it so that it can find others too. And whether that means in the material world or whatever world, you know, doesn't mean to say that, but it's about us trying to look after ourselves so that we can look after, and to me papakāinga has been whānau ora. For us looking after ourselves, looking after our family. We definitely believe in that kaupapa, whānau ora.
JK: Tēnā koutou katoa
Nau mai haere mai ki te Indigenous Urbanism, Aotearoa Edition, Episode eleven.
I’m your host Jade Kake and this is Indigenous Urbanism, stories about the spaces we inhabit, and the community drivers and practitioners who are shaping those environments and decolonising through design.
On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism, we visit the Ranga-Bidois whānau nō Tainui, who bought back their ancestral land in Ngāruawāhia and have worked together as a whānau to re-establish papakāinga.
We spoke with mother and son whānau project team, Trevor and Poppy Ranga.
TR: Yeah we were like a team, she took care of the social behaviours, and I took care of the technical aspects.
Nazarene Mihaere nō Tūwharetoa raua ko Tainui is our special reporter for this story.
TR: Kia ora. Ko Trevor tāku ingoa. Nō Kawhia Moana ahau. E noho ana ki Ngāruawāhia. So, in 2007 we had dreams to come together and work together as a whānau to stop the fragmentation that was happening in terms of our whānau structure, whānau ora. We were on our own individual ventures, trying to pretty much establish ourselves in the mainstream. And there were a couple of incidents or issues that arose when we went to go and purchase our own homes. And it just wasn't panning out for us. At the time there were so many barriers in the way, that we needed to look at how we were trying to achieve those home ownership goals. So we were gifted this whenua - well we say it's gifted, because we were up against so many other people, including the developers. But the ex-homeowner's really liked us and our vision, and what we wanted to bring here was all about families and communities. Yeah, so that was pretty much what dot us here. We ended up going through a pilgrimage, and looking at the possibilities on how we manage to obtain it, and when we did some background and some whakapapa mahi, we found out that our tūpuna had mana whenua over the land here. And how we found out is by that hill over there, there was a pā site up on the hill there, and it was called Puke Ahua, and so that's where one of our tūpuna had settled. And that’s where the name Ngāruawāhia came from, that hill.
Nazarene Mihaere: You’ve mentioned that we’re standing on a papakāinga. Do you want to explain to those of us who don't know what a papakāinga is, what a papakāinga is?
TR: Yeah, there's lots of understandings around papakāinga, but for us it's about whanaungatanga, it's about connecting as a whānau again, re-establishing some tikanga, some new ways of coping really, in the ever changing world that's happening. Things are moving so fast we tend to get caught up in the grind of everyday life. So with us being here together we can keep each other grounded, build relationships, and also have our own space, while we're here. And also for us, papakāinga is about papa, which is the foundation, and building that foundation and then the kāinga is like the kai, and how we eat it. This is my own interpretation. So it's about looking after our resources, and how does that look. Well, you've got to look at how you use it, how you grow it, nurture it, manaaki it. So yeah, that's what papakāinga is for us.
NM: Now that we’re walking down the papakāinga, how did you guys get your street name, Ania Way?
TR: Yeah, it wasn't actually a long journey to get there. It was a bit of common sense I suppose.
Poppy Ranga: It was, because we originally were told, go and get the Māori name, the history and that and find a name for that. So, we were told to go to the King and ask for him to give a name. But the long journey to get to the King during his period of illness. So that's what I talk about, long. But then commonsense happened through all that, through all those learnings. And when I say common sense, I thought it was quite witty actually.
TR: Yeah, so the name comes from pretty much, it was actually three influential women that helped to make this happen, this papakāinga. It was my wife, Pania Ranga, and my sister Tania Bidois, and our lawyer Mania Hope. So they had a bit of a similarity happening with their names, so we just dropped their front letters and made it Ania Way. So, yeah, that’s how we came up with the name Ania Way. Yeah so we were quite lucky in how we ended up with this right of way, we had a few engineering hiccups, it's around traffic movement and safety for the kids. So how we got around it is by creating driveways or areas on the - as you can see, you can manoeuvre on there so you can reverse, not reversing out onto the right of way. As you know, a lot of kids get run over by reversing vehicles, so we did turning bays on our section, same over here.
PR: We try not to park on our street if we can, so that it's safe.
Who lives where
NM: As we walk, did you want to give us a description on who lives in what property, and what's it like living with your whānau on a papakāinga, and whether or not you guys have those pot luck dinners, and that kind of thing. Do you guys have specific whānau events? Just that kind of stuff.
TR: Yeah so in the cottage here we've got mum's sister, my aunty. She's what, you're third youngest sister?
PR: She's number four in the family of 12. She's got a granddaughter there with her, living with her. It's a two bedroom cottage. Originally that's where I was, but it's more fitting that they stay there. She was living down there. So really awesome, one of the concepts of our papakāinga is, like we say, look after our own. And so my children and their partners have decided that there's a space for my sister and her moko, and that's what we're about. I think she's been in the most wonderful place for a long, long time.
NM: So we know that to our right there's a hundred year old villa. Was that dwelling that your aunty lives in built around the same time?
TR: No, that was built in the 1990s as an auxiliary flat to the main.
NM: Oh, as the auxiliary.
TR: So this used to be a driveway where we're walking down to, used to turn into the shed here. But we just carried it on. Just cause it was down the middle of our -
PR: Used to be stables here before.
TR: Yeah, used to be a horse track, race track, around here.
PR: So this is an auxiliary to that there, so that's 20 and that 20a. And that's 20b.
NM: So 20b is when you started the new development for the dwellings.
TR: Yeah, that's right. Yeah so these two homes are now one title, the cottage and 20b. So we took that off this site and put it on that site.
PR: It's just the way you could get that whare there. One of the Council things.
TR: Yeah so the ruling is around how many dwellings you can have on one title. We managed to keep that on the title. Just because of the size of the lot that we're able to achieve that.
NM: What was the size?
TR: So nothing less than 900 square metres, you can have two dwellings of those sizes. Yeah, so it was about maximising the land, but not being detrimental to how we live. We need our space and to grow. Yeah, so to the right is the original home here, the homestead. We've got a whānau here, that whakapapa back to Kawhia. And then my mum stays in number 2 Ania Way. That's a four bedroom home. And then my sister over here in 20b, with her husband and her daughter.
NM: Is that a four bedroom as well?
TR: Yeah, that's a four bedroom.
PR: The intention is to have more children.
TR: Yeah, so we've designed the homes on how we would want them. Not to how our funders would want them. Yeah, so this is number 1 Ania Way, this is my whare, me and my wife and my four kids. That’s a five bedroom.
NM: Okay, and whose lovely house are we standing in front of now?
TR: So this is number 6 Ania Way. This is my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my nephew, and another nephew and another niece. So we've left a spot there for a building that we're not quite sure what's going, a multifunctional building where the caravan is, we've left a space there. It might be a learning centre, might be a crossfit box gym, or whatever.
PR: Hauora, yeah.
NM: What was the typical process that you and your whānau went through when actually securing the land and then building?
TR: We did a lot of Rangahau, looking at Council records, doing all the LIM reports, zoning rules and all those things, to build up a bit of a papakāinga plan really. But at the time, we didn't know that that's what you needed to do, for say, step one of a papakāinga.
PR: We had no idea. Yeah so it came down to, we had a plan. And whānau ora, and what it can offer us, helped us to make that plan, and to define and actually look at our housing aspirations, but in actual fact it’s our whānau aspirations.
TR: Phase one was really just developing our whānau plan, and then phase two was compiling all our information so we can take our proposal to whoever's out there that's got the opportunities. And that time, SHU was looking for a whānau that was at what they call readiness stage. And we were ready to go, everything's signed really, all our agreements, our contracts, everything that's involved in a project. Yeah we were ready to go. So we’re at what we call phase three. So we've built four homes, and what we're doing now is we're going through like a monitoring of the performance of the homes. We've still got another three phases to go where we're looking at doing what we call backyard sustainability, gardens, maara kai, landscaping, all those kind of things. But to get there we need to know how our homes are performing, on how we've designed the homes. So we've positioned them in a way that we've taken full advantage of the sun, orientated them, positioned them. Yeah, so that's part of one of our actions that we did before we even took our plans to Council is that we worked out our landscaping designs and all that stuff. We haven't quite gotten there yet, like I said we're just still monitoring how things are, where the sunlight is for our planting, and water usage, and all those kind of things. We're going to start putting in fencing and all those kinds of assets.
PR: This one is the mowing part. That's how that one mows the lawn, not as short as the other, but never mind.
TR: Yeah, so we're going to look at our spatial design, creating privacy zones and all those kind of areas. Yeah, so we're in phase three at the moment. Just still monitoring things and what we can do better, take the learnings. We’ve still got three more empty sections we're wanting to build on. It’s about the past, present and future. If you can incorporate those three things into your design and your planning, I think the papakāinga will be more achievable and sustainable, because you’re covering so much that’s needed.
NM: It sounds like a lot of what you guys have done, you’ve done you together as a whānau. Was that hard to establish in the beginning? I know you guys talk a lot about whānau ora and everything, so, do you want to give us a bit of a picture of what your whānau ora looks like in action?
TR: Yeah, basically we just throw everything on the table really. Lay out all the cards and if anyone's got an opinion they start picking away at it. Just to get clarification on the table. Like, we've got to leave that table with a full understanding on what's actually going on. But we've got a diverse range of understandings in our family, from a nurse, through to teacher, kaumātua. So, we cover it quite well. So we try to come from each and every angle, so that we don't leave the stone unturned, so to speak.
PR: You have to have a driver. You have to have a driver and someone with a vision. And, for a long time, Trevor and I carried the drive and vision. He had the vision, I continued driving, and we drive together, and in fact, Trevor's wife, our daughter-in-law and son-in-law, they trusted us with our decision. But that's not through not talking about it, sometimes it was hard to share the vision. But, hey, they trusted us, and so we had to make sure that they continued trusting us.
TR: It was about that communication.
PR: It was definitely communication. Yeah, so the journey is that we have a plan, we communicate, find what the aspirations are and how we're going to get there. But, oh my gosh, when it came to form filling I hated it. But, hey, we did it. So you become creative, and then you realise the skills that we do have. But we also know the boundaries and limits of each other now, very much so.
NM: It’s awesome to see that you guys haven’t just stopped at building houses. You guys have obviously got a plan for the future and you both are just running for it. It's awesome to see that your whānau are all in on it too.
PR: You should have seen when our umbrella CEO saw our plan was on wallpaper, and we'd had all the things. But all those various categories, they decided to put it under housing. So that's how we came about doing housing, under whānau ora, and they're so interrelated. We always maintained, put a roof over our head, families can bloom and blossom.
TR: Without doing this papakāinga we would never have been able to do it as a whānau. We could probably do it individually, but not as a whānau. And I think that's a real important [part of] this, is the whānau ora, the wellbeing that we’re still striving for.
NM: So is everyone in these properties homeowners? Or are some of them renters?
TR: Yeah, so we pretty much all rent, really. Even myself. We rent to the trust. Well, actually, we don't rent, we just pay the mortgage.
PR: Otherwise I'd be somewhere, paying someone else. I consider myself helping my children to achieve the dream that I have, and that they share too. It's about manaaki each other. And financial, we can do that.
TR: Yeah, so just talking about the trust. So the trust is myself, my wife, my sister and her husband. The Ranga-Bidois family trust. So we come together just so that we could combine our resources really. And work together and cover the areas that need to be covered to achieve something like this. And continue on the asset management side of it. Cause it's not just about affordable, well actually, we don't like to use the word affordable housing, it's more cost effective housing. We want to make affordable living. So the way we've done things is that now we're going to start incorporating plants, and maara kai. We've used cost effective lighting. Keep all the day to day living costs down, power and that sort of thing.
PR: It's making money work for you, rather than you work for money. So, we've come together as a whānau, and we've pooled our resources, and to me collectively we can help each other.
NM: One of the main things that really stands out to us is the different generations that actually occupy these homes. So it would be lovely to hear what you think, how all this has benefited your whānau, especially coming from a generation where you're living situation growing up may have been different. And then it would be awesome to see what you think, especially with you having kids and passing on this beautiful gift to them as well. So it would be awesome to cover that.
PR: In the beginning of the plan, the whānau plan, you had to kind of say how and who benefits from this. So it started with my mum, as being part of the demand for the housing, and there's my generation, then our son, our children, the mokos, and then. So straight away we’ve got five, and that’s not thinking about the generations to come. So for me, this is the dream, this is the moemoeā. But this is also the tuku iho for me.
TR: Living here, for me, I’ve hit the jackpot. I'm a man of leisure now. I just drop my kids off at babysitter one, two or three. And for my wife too. We’ve just go so much more time to go out there and do what we really love, and achieve what we really want to achieve.
PR: So this is the bus driver, she takes all the kids to school, picks them up at three and brings them all back. And then one of us will babysit, you know, if the other one can't. And then one of us will probably say, oh yes, well Tania won't be home tonight so I've got to cook tea. We’re not just whānau, we celebrate with our community too. Trevor and them, they're involved in waka ama, they're managing a waka ama team, so they've had bonding things at the pool, and sleepovers, and so, you know. And we've had out mum's 85th birthday, and so we've brought the family back here and put the gazebo up at the pool, drinks and that.
And then one house, they eat at my house, sleep at Trevor's house, party at Tania's house. And the baby sitter's over here. So when we have whānau, well we make sure we have a parking space that all out there. But whānau continually wanting to come back, so it's not just about us here, but we become part of the community too.
NM: Is there anything else you wanted to speak about the papakāinga? Or any tips that you wanted to give whānau or different people that are actually going through that process, or wanting to go through the process of building a papakāinga.
TR: All our obstacles are really -
PR: Paving stones now son. They were brick walls, and then hurdles, and now they're paving stones.
TR: Yeah they're more like guidelines really. They guide you to sort it out. You can't get around it, you just got to sort it out. It's the only way. We weren’t here to profit, we were here to establish ourselves and our connections to the whenua and to the community, and wanted to give back really.
JK: Our guest reporter today was Nazarene Mihaere.
Indigenous Urbanism is a production of Te Matapihi. Sandy Wakefield does our sound recording, editing, and mixing. Our theme was composed by Thomas Burton. I’m Jade Kake, your host and Executive Producer.
For more information about today’s show and other episodes of Indigenous Urbanism go to indigenousurbanism.net. You can drop us a line at email@example.com. And if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a review or rating on iTunes.
Coming up next on Indigenous Urbanism, we visit Rangiriri Pā, the site of a new symbolic reinterpretation developed in reverence to the original pā footprint, and as a setting for continued education about the Battle of Rangiriri, and the subsequent invasion of the Waikato.
Moko Tauariki: It's a place where many of our ancestors stood, in defiance of an imminent invasion by the Crown, and basically made their sacrifices. Rangiriri wasn't just a fort hold, that was held by Waikato-Tainui alone. The second Māori king, Kingi Tawhiao, he called on the allegiance of many iwi, all the iwi from around the motu. Rangiriri is significant to many iwi who actually have ancestors that have actually died there. So Waikato, our role, we are merely the kaitiaki of that place, to ensure that significance of that particular site, the mauri of that particular site, is retained at the highest level.