Darleen Tana Hoff-Nielsen

Ko Ngāpuhi, Te Atiawa, Ngā Rāuru, Ngāti Porou


My husband and I had been living in Europe for 20 years with our 4 babies. We’d talked about moving to Aotearoa but had not been able to agree on where until we visited Waiheke Island for the first time in 2009. The affinity was instantaneous. The island is obviously beautiful with easy access to Auckland for work. However, it was as much the fact that there was no reticulated water or waste-water system and that everything had to be done within scale keeping of the environment that attracted us to the motu.

I’m just meant to be here. There is no ‘why’ or reason, per se. My family are home here. Our babies roll free range. The moutere nurtures us every moment of every day. We also live among others who know and DO mahitahi to restore mauri, te mauri o te whenua, mauri o te moana, mauri o ngā tāngata katoa.

The world is pretty screwed at this point. If we were guests in someone’s home it would be like we’ve eaten everything in the cupboards, broken all the furniture and shat the bed. Clearly, the constructed values systems of the time have failed to ‘govern, or nurture and protect etc etc’ and unless we clean up now, pestilence will take over.

For me, a return to our indigenous Māori way of being is needed, ie., where we manaaki each other within an interconnected, regenerative context and where ancient LORE applies. This might sound lofty to some. But very practically, this is our reality at Piritahi because there’s no room to fit the bookmaara where we grow kai for our community. We start also to weave these perspectives into work with the Waiheke Marine Project to restore rimurimu and re-balance Kina through our #Kina4Dinner mahi.

Much of my focus on the motu therefore is to support building capability for Māori to step into kaitiaki taiao responsibilities. We learn while working as tuakana and teina alongside each other. It’s always a joy to acknowledge an awesome whakaaro of someone (else) and realise too that we each actually ‘know’ more than we each think we do at the time.