Social Work Theories in Action

By Mary Nash; Robyn Munford et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Dreams are Free:
Nga Moemoea a te Hapu

Rachael Selby

This chapter illustrates community development in action. Ngatokowaru Marae is nestled beside the Hokio Stream, west of Lake Horowhenua, five kilometres from the Tasman sea and with a view of the Tararua ranges to the east. The family and marae have been located there, on the lower west coast of the North Island, since the early nineteenth century. The families, who built the first houses in the late nineteenth century, worked the land, milked cows and used the stream as a source of food and water for the community. The matriarch, Ema, gave birth to 14 children in the latter part of the century. They belonged to the land and stream, each regarded as gifts of their ancestors. The children who were born and raised there, were later taken to the local school by horse and trap or they walked the dusty road to the town until a school bus service began.

The community marae was self-sufficient, providing for its members and bringing in cash by selling surplus crops to the market and by selling milk to the local dairy factory. In the distance across the lake, they watched the forest being felled, the arrival of Europeans and the building of a railway connecting the city in Wellington, 100 kilometres south, with the city in Auckland to the north. Eventually, the steam from the trains could be seen in the distance. A new town emerged from the forest with a wide main street and wooden shops built from the timber on the hills. The railway linked the town with the growing communities along its route.

The Hokio stream flows from east to west along the northern boundary of the marae. It was important to the community living on its banks because it provided food: shellfish, flounder, an abundance of eel and freshwater crabs. The watercress, abundant on the edge of the stream, was a lush green vegetable. The stream was also used as a place in which to store food. In the late summer and early autumn when the eels migrated from the lake to the sea, the family

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