Coming Home

October 10, 2023

Coming Home Coming Home

“It felt like my kuia and I were walking this journey together.”

The first time two-year-old Promise saw Maungarei, she knew straight away it  was her maunga.

“We were in the car, and shepointed and said, ‘Pāpa, that’s my maunga’ without me even telling her,” Rangikahiwi Panapa says.

“My kuia is from Ngāti Pāoa so it was a real moment for us coming home, being back on our turangawaewae, our whenua.”

The Panapa whānau have been working towards home ownership for the past five years. Through the OWN IT Programme at Tāmaki Regeneration, they are now the proud owners of a three-bedroom home in Glen Innes.

Moving back on the whenua has been healing for his whānau, Rangikahiwi says.

“My grandmother never talked about it, about where she came from,” he says.

“She had to move from the whenua and then by the late 1900s the land was already taken from us. She passed away a few years ago now but as Māori we know she’s always with us. When we were signing the papers for the house, when we saw the house for the first time, all of those moments, it felt like me and my kuia were walking this journey together. There’s no separation.”

Promise, who is now three years old, loves waking up and seeing her maunga every day.

“Pepeha is physical because we know it, we feel it, we see it,” says Rangikahiwi.

“We can’t really know our pepeha if we haven’t gone back to those places, they can just feel like words. Now we see the maunga every day. It’s a shadow of our everyday life. I get to hear the stories from the local kaumatua and hear ancient knowledge we had lost. I get to pass that knowledge down to my family.”

Rangikahiwi is a registered teacher and key worker, teaching at Kedgley Intermediate, while his wife Salote is of Fijian descent and a lecturer at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Mangere.

The benefits of home ownership have been massive, he says. It has allowed the whānau to have food sovereignty and grow their own kai in the garden.

“We’ve got berry trees, avocado trees, lots of different vegetables and we’re always giving our vegetables away. It’s
very Māori that when you have enough you give it to someone else,” he says.

“We spent Matariki working in the mara and then giving kai away. I always let my kids take the bag and give so that they know what it feels like to give, to see the thankfulness on someone’s face.”

There are also other benefits of owning a home, such as future security.

“I don’t have to worry that we will be told to move out in three or four weeks. I can establish my feet here and I can pass this house on to my kids,” he says. “It’s a good feeling as parents to see your children enjoy something and not worry about getting kicked out.”

His advice for those working towards home ownership is to be resilient and look at the bigger picture.

“We need Māori and Pasifika families to believe home ownership is attainable,” he says.

“There’s a lot of hurdles and the most challenging part of the journey can be the physical paperwork. I think for a lot of people, that’s a big turnoff. You’re going to have to be resilient and just keep going. When you get fifty noes, remember you will get that one yes.”

He also credits his wife, his faith in Jesus Christ and his Church leaders, and the TRC and community leaders for helping support his whānau towards their home ownership dream.