Whanau from Hurunui-o-Rangi marae in Gladstone will team up with Department of Conservation (DoC) today in a one-of-a-kind excursion to Matiu Somes Island to take part in a traditional practice of cleaning albatross bones.
Masterton DoC community ranger Bart Cox will accompany four members from the local marae, including a kuia, to connect with the Te Ati Awa iwi who invited them to the island.
There, they will share ancient stories and history before cleaning the bones which will be turned into tools such as those used for ta moko, a traditional tattooing method.
Mr Cox said the bones will be placed in a kete and strapped to the wharf to be cleaned by salt water, wave action and sea creatures over a period of several months.
In the past, Tangata Whenua have used natural materials such as wood, plants, feathers and bones for practical purposes, however, most of these resources are now protected by DoC due to their rare or extinct nature.
The birds, including kiwi, long-tailed cuckoo, and pukeko, were handed over by people after they were found dead.
The trip was the idea of DoC East Coast senior cultural adviser Carl Baker, formerly of Greytown, who was inspired to connect the frozen birds with local iwi as part of their living culture.
Mr Baker and native bird expert Hans Rook were at at Hurunui-o-Rangi marae to show everyone how to skin and prepare the birds.
“DoC’s involvement is about supporting iwi undertaking cultural practices” said Mr Cox.
The trip was all about the iwis’ ongoing relationships with each other.
“What makes the trip so special is that Ngati Kahungunu have always had a presence on the island”.