waterfalls in forest

The KNOWLEDGE of our ancestors: matauranga maori

I wonder what it was like for my ancestors when they crossed the Pacific Ocean from Hawaiki to Aotearoa, New Zealand. Paddling an enormous waka for days and nights, guided by the stars. Bringing with them the hopes and dreams of their people. What gives me confidence is that they had matauranga Māori.

An introduction to mātauranga Māori – Māori knowledge.

Te manu kai i te miro nōna te ngahere.
Te manu kai i te mātauranga nōna te ao.

The bird that feeds on the miro, theirs is the forest.
The bird that feeds from the tree of knowledge, theirs is the world.

WHAT IS matauranga maori?

Many cultures have beliefs and traditions. Equally, Māori is no different. One such tradition is the Māori knowledge, and the Maori way of knowing is matauranga Māori. This knowledge is shared in moteatea (chants), waiata (songs), whaikorero (oratory speech), pepeha (quotations), whakapapa (geneaologies), purakau (stories), kawa (protocol) and tikanga (customs).

Some examples of matauranga Maori are:


Matariki is held in mid-winter every year. A cluster of stars (Pleiades) rises in mid-winter marking the start of the Māori New Year. The next celebration is on Friday 24 June, the inaugural Matariki public holiday. The holiday will shift each year depending on the appearance of the Pleiades in the sky.


While the Māori lunar calendar (Maramataka) means the turning of the moon. It marks the moon’s phases in a lunar month. During a typical lunar month, some days are favourable for harvesting, while others are not. Fishing and planting food by the way of the moon, the tides, and the elements are still common today.

rongoa maori – traditional maori healing

This traditional Māori healing system covers practices like native plant medicines, massage, customs, prayer, and incantations. More recently, Rongoa Māori Medicine has become popular as people seek more effective healing in their own ngahere (bush). There has also been an interest in using Rongoa in natural medicine. Natural health practitioners and herbalists seek healing, traditional uses, and knowledge.


As a tool to help our children learn from the past to navigate the future Sir Ian Taylor, animation entrepreneur, developed ‘Matauranga’. This tool helps tamariki learn about the footsteps laid down by our polynesian ancestors centuries ago. The voyage of discovery, technology, and innovation. How Polynesian navigators on mighty waka crossed the Pacific Ocean, guided only by their kinship to the natural world.

Watch the video to find out more about the voyage of our ancestors from Sir Ian Taylor. (Credit: LOV Nau Mai Ki Te Land of Voyagers).

As these examples demonstrate it is by following matauranga Maori we are staying true to the foundations of our ancestry for the benefit of future generations.

mother and daughter on grass

Mother’s day today is a celebration of all the goddesses in our lives

Today is Mother’s Day in Aotearoa New Zealand a day to celebrate all the mums in our lives. A celebration that has its origins in ancient goddesses. The best gift you can give your mum to show your love and appreciation is to spend time with her. Since becoming a mum I enjoy spending quality time with my daughter. Whether it’s going shopping, nature walks or watching our favourite television show. Although, she lives in another city, and we don’t spend as much time together, we make the most of the times we do have together as I do with my own mum. I’ve often wondered where the celebration of Mother’s Day originated.  

Celebrations of mothers can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Festivals honoured the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybete. But the modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” This was a major tradition in the UK and parts of Europe. It eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 40s, which has become the Mother’s Day in NZ we know today.  

Us kiwis like to honour our mums with gifts of flowers or chocolates. With a night off cooking dinner or breakfast in bed other alternatives. But why not try something different? Take mum out for a walk at a local walkway or reserve followed by lunch at a café? Or perhaps pack a picnic with mum’s favourite food to take with you. She is sure to thank you for it. We are spoilt for choice but the most special gift you can give is your love and spending time together.   

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there who are all goddesses just like the Greeks.

Rich in heritage and nature: Nelson Tasman

In November I was lucky to get away for a holiday to Nelson Tasman at the top of the South Island of New Zealand.

My top five reasons you should visit Nelson Tasman:

  1. Heritage is remembered at Founders Heritage Park.
  2. The Abel Tasman National Park.
  3. Westport with panoramic views and seal colony.
  4. Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk.
  5. Greymouth with its gold mining and jade-hunting history.

Nelson is a popular base for caving, vineyards, exploring nature and so much more. The city’s heritage dates back to 1841 and is showcased at Founders Heritage Park.

1. Founders Heritage Park

Here we discovered a collection of historic buildings and transportation depicting early settlement in Nelson.

We enjoyed the early history captured here Photo Credit: Sandra Groves.

2. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park was named after the Dutch explorer who is recognised as the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642. It is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and its world-famous coast track.

Although we only got a glimpse of the park there’s plenty to see, do and places to stay.

Tip: Download the Abel Tasman App courtesy of Project Janszoon. It is an excellent guide for your trip.

Just before Takaka, we did an easy short walk through lush native bush to Wainui Falls. Crossing farmland for a short distance then we walked through a forest of nikau palms, rata trees, and ferns. There’s a great suspension bridge on the way.

Wainui Falls Photo Credit: Sandra Groves

We loved the Wainui Falls, so loud you can hear them some distance before you reached them. The falls are the largest and most accessible falls in Golden Bay/Mohua.

Further along at Wainui Bay, we enjoyed the coastal views and walkway. There’s plenty of walking opportunities and awesome beach views that go right around the bay.

3. Westport (via Buller Gorge) to Greymouth

The drive to Westport took about three hours.

Just a note: be prepared for the long drive but don’t be put off as there’s great scenery.

Once in Westport, we went to see the seal colony at Tauranga Bay which offers panoramic views of the cape and rugged coastline. We didn’t see very many seals just a few juveniles as many had returned to the sea after the breeding season.

Just amazing! It’s hard to believe what nature can do.

4. Punakaiki (on the edge of the Paparoa National Park)

Between Greymouth and Westport is the small community of Punakaiki. Here we enjoyed the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk which is a very popular tourist destination at Dolomite Point south of the main village. The rocks poking up from the sea looked like giant pancakes and were quite spectacular.

Tip: The photo opportunities here are amazing, so don’t forget to take your camera!

5. Greymouth

Greymouth is just an hour and a half drive from Westport. A quaint town with a gold mining and a jade-hunting past. A visit to the House Museum and Shantytown Heritage Park is a must.

Shantytown is a re-created gold-rush town with a museum and steam train (although an electric train was in operation at the time we visited) it was still well worth it. We also got to learn the art of gold panning.

Tip: Give the gold panning a go, as all prospectors are guaranteed a small find!

Give gold panning a go, and you will go home with some gold Photo Credit: Sandra Groves

If you’re tossing around ideas for places to visit over the summer, in fact, any time of the year, I highly recommend the Nelson Tasman region be at the top of your list. It’s definitely a place I’m keen to return to at a later date, Happy holidays!

It’s dramatically beautiful, it’s an idyll, it’s a little oasis. Lord Robert Winston

Needing help to write a blog?

Get in touch with Sandra sandragroves@firstchapter.co.nz to book a free 30-minute discovery call.

First Chapter Brand Story

First Chapter is a Content Writing business that’s vision is to communicate unique stories that are visible now and in the future. Tim Livingston designed a logo and brand that is fresh, invigorating and connects with business, community groups, government departments and iwi.

The logo is in a weave pattern like a page curl in a story book. The typography has a cultural feel to appeal to the heritage of this country. The bilingual name for First Chapter is ‘Te Matatipu’ which means first shoot (to begin to sprout) just like a new beginning on your journey to tell a unique story. Brand is far more than a logo and colour scheme, it is the entire package and is mostly about what a business is trying to achieve.

My aim is to work with clients to bring their stories to life, so the next generation benefit.

Nga mihi, Sandra