Youthline Manukau & Sovereign Mahi: Tuarua – Christina Leef

I was asked to put together a piece around cultural tikanga which involved me exploring the different cultures that make up the South Auckland community to carve out a piece of work to house all the different customs within each culture.


As I was navigating these different waters I was drawn back to my hometown, Glen Innes (GI) in East Auckland. I remember it as a port of cultural collision. There are so many different cultures that make up our community primarily from Polynesia. It’s the place where most of us knew each others families, we would go to the same primary, intermediate and colleges. On this journey my lens switched between South Auckland and my home in East Auckland and it has opened my eyes up to the similarities and differences between our cultures. There are actually more similarities than differences ­manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, wairuatanga, kaitiakitanga. I conjured up images of waterways coming together, flowing into one main body of water ­ the Manukau Harbour.


I was having a kōrero with my cousin about it and we were talking about the waterways, about how we all descend from different waters but ultimately come together. We’re deep in kōrero and “Ngā Uri ō” comes up. Ngā Uri ō means descendants of the perfect title for this kaupapa. We want to identify, welcome and appreciate where everyone descends from. Ngā uri ō captures the different waterways that each and everyone of us descend from. It celebrates our unique cultures but importantly gives oxygen to those differences and similarities so that when we come into a space, we acknowledge and respect each culture. Ngā uri ō was presented on the first day of our ‘working bee’ and was accompanied with an image by the League of Live Illustrators.





This shows the different awa, rivers that different cultural groups flow from. It represented whanaungatanga on the first day where we asked:

ko wai au? Ko wai koe? Who am I , who are you?


It was a whirlpool of connection and growing relationships. As we move along the awa we see that it starts to come together, here we ask:

Who are we together on this mission to tautoko (support) Youthline Manukau to increase the amount of volunteers. On day 2 I felt the water crash at my ankles, we jumped into our Youthline waka and frantically paddled in the four hour timeframe. During this time we were broke into different groups to work on how we can create a buzz around YLM, how we can encourage volunteers and how we can retain them. As a collective we all danced around ideas, we pitched in, we collaborated. It was so exciting because we became one, he iwi tahi tatou. I was seeing and feeling the uniqueness of every culture in the room and how we all synced up to the same frequency. We had paddled and we arrived at the open waters, we arrived at the Manukau Harbour. At the end of the day we presented to the whānau our ideas and key action points. We then went around the room to ‘check out’ and summarise our experience and what we are going to do going forward.

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