By Alice Te Punga Somerville, UHM Department of English Associate Professor
The “Taukaea Māori” symposium on 26 April brought together and celebrated Māori students, scholars, and community members based on Oʻahu and beyond. The day was envisioned by organizers Alice Te Punga Somerville (English Department), Raukura Roa (Māori Program), and Marata Tamaira (PhD candidate ANU/CPIS MA, 2008) as a “first” of many such gatherings that will bounce annually between UH-Mānoa and Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi (BYUH) and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in Laʻie. A taukaea is a rope to which a hook is attached; this provides the central metaphor that foregrounds our connections with each other as Māori but also, more broadly, with our relatives from all around the Pacific; it recognizes where we are currently located and also the possibilities of nurturing our long-standing regional links. Held at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, the day began with an appropriate interaction of Kanaka Maoli and Māori protocols, and the first session featured two kuia (women elders), Vernice Wineera and Alice Unawai, who reflected on their many years as educators, cultural practitioners, and artists. Following this, three panels featured Māori (and some Kanaka Maoli) presenters who talked about their research projects and experiences. The speakers were a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and artists; those from UHM and BYUH/PCC were joined by Māori scholars from the University of California–Los Angeles, Syracuse University, and University of Alberta. More than sixty people attended the event, including faculty, staff, and students based at UH Mānoa as well as members of the Māori community based in Hawaiʻi. There was singing, there was eating, there was scholarship, there was laughter, there were tears… and we’re ready to do it all again next year at BYUH/PCC in April 2014.