Nau mai ki te tēpu
Fayne Robinson is the newest member of the Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust and will take his seat at the table for the first time at the Trust’s October meeting.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Hokitika. My grandfather is Bill Wilson (Ngāti Mamoe, Ngāi Tahu iwi/Ngāti Mahaki, Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tūāhuriri ngā hapū) and my grandmother is Mary Jane Mahuika (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Mamoe, Ngāi Tahu ngā iwi; Puaha te Rangi, Ngāti Mahaki, Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tūāhuriri ngā hapū). My mum June Robinson was one of 15 children and was one of three key figures who worked on the successful Tiriti settlement claim, where they had to prepare and present their case to the Privy Council in London. My mum was a passionate advocate for things Māori on the West Coast, and a trustee of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō as well.
I have four children, who have all been brought up with tikanga Māori, and three with te reo Māori as well.
I am a carver; I grew up in Hokitika, actively involved in any sports going, and every free moment I was exploring the environment. If I wasn’t at the river whitebaiting, or up the rivers searching for pounamu, I may have been found gathering seafood at one of the many special mahinga kai on the West Coast. I could have been gathering kiekie, harakeke, or even neinei and kuta, for one of the many weaving projects Mum was involved with. After leaving school I was accepted as a trainee carver at the NZ Māori Arts & Crafts Carving School in Rotorua and graduated in 1984. I have carved ever since. After another four years as a graduate carver, I tutored in Hokitika before returning to Rotorua to further my knowledge of carving. Trained in wānanga (traditional schooling), I continue to develop my own contemporary style.
What on your thoughts on how we can express our Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Tōtanga?
Culture should be present in all that we do, so that we represent our iwi with pride, confidence, and in mana enhancing ways. Taking our branding to another level would be awesome. Nike have their "swoosh", and we have apparel at present; how exciting the future branding could be!
Having our own unique home base - marae - would enhance relationship building, give all a place that they know is theirs and theirs alone. Being on the cultural committee has highlighted a few points for me and I look forward to continuing discussions in this area.
Do you have any advice for whanau who want to develop their cultural capacity?
The pathway we followed with our own tamariki was to commit to the journey ahead. With our younger two boys, Levi and Tahu, we only spoke te reo Māori at home until they were five, they went through kohanga reo and immersion schooling, and we - Dianne and I - went to night school to study te reo Māori for six years. We took every opportunity to have iwi, hapū and marae involvement, and have shared knowledge handed down to us with our children as and when the opportunities present themselves. I think this is a successful way of developing cultural capacity and encourage others to commit to the journey as well.
What’s been the best advice you’ve received, and what would be your advice for our rangatahi?
My best advice came to me as a question: "Why be good at a lot of things when you can excel in one area?" This opened my pathway forward within the arts. My time with the best carving tutors at the NZ Māori Arts & Crafts Institute Carving School gave me a solid foundation on which to build my own style, ability, and reach my personal potential. By setting high standards and maximising potential, it made the transition to and understanding of other raw materials, and it has enabled me to pride myself in producing quality products, rather than a quantity of products, to further enhance the position of Māori art with integrity. If we excel in certain areas, collectively we maximise the knowledge base and expertise potential for the future.
Identifying those individuals who show passion and ability in certain areas, would allow us to encourage them to follow their pathway toward expertise. The future haka gurus, the future reo exponents, taiaha experts may be identified early, but the multitude of opportunities for success in tertiary studies will produce those future leaders as well. How exciting is it to know that in our own iwi we have lawyers, accountants, future iwi leaders, scientists, doctors and the like. So rangatahi mā, follow your passion and be the best that you can be. Know that your iwi backs you.