A Reflection – He huahua te kai? E, he wai te kai.

Tia Reihana (Ngati Hine) is a dancer, choreographer, scholar and educator. She is currently lecturing at the University of Auckland in dance education and history, as she undertakes her doctoral dissertation exploring relationships between kinaesthetic and indigenous ways of knowing in mainstream dance education settings.

Presented at the In The Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalisation conference, Tia’s performance lecture He huahua te kai? E, he wai te kai. (Are Preserved Birds the Best Food? Ah No! Water Is.) is ‘in response to practice-led research that emphasizes the importance of awareness and the bearing of relationships to water within an urban environment’.

Here, Tia has contributed a reflection on her performance lecture…


Nga mihi nui kia koutou

Ko Ruapekapeka tōku maunga

Ko Waiomio tōku awa

Ko Ngāti Hine tōku hapu

Ko Miria tōku marae

Ko Hineamaru tōku tupuna

Ko Te Piha Reihana tōku papa rāua ko Beverly Stephenson tōku mama

Ko Tia Reihana-Morunga tōku ingoa

Tena koutou katoa


We, her, me, us are gathered here… Emerging from song to find a placement as woman, performer, choreographer, mother and ngati Hine…

My river is the swirling waters of Waiomio… you will find this special place on the north island of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Waiomio is where my bones are from….. Waiomio is where my bones will return.

As an indigenous wahine… as Māori… there is a cultural consciousness that fosters a relationship with the natural world. Within this way of knowing, seeing and doing I am able to find a sense of belonging within a natural order, a whakapapa or genealogy.

I am inspired to explore movement within my indigeneity that extends beyond location and socio cultural contexts sometimes characterised by terminology such as colonised, colonisation and  post-colonial … to instead encompass a way of ‘being in the world’… a way that acknowledges kinaesthetic consciousness and the human body’s relationship to landscape and environment.

Perhaps indigeneity is offered as a transformative possibility of how we move through future.

As Māori I am always encouraged in conversations of ways in which a Māori world view can inform our relationship with self and environment.

This conversation… this… “human experience” is never exclusive. It crosses borders, fences, rivers, mountains, oceans and countries. It is however shaped by indigeneity, indigenous knowledge… indigenous ways of knowing and doing.  

Within my location as indigenous woman, tangata whenua, Māori, Ngāti Hine… Explorations in research emerge as the landscape projected on landscape connecting papatuanuku (earth mother), whenua (land), wairua (spirit), wahine (woman) .. . An embodied act of documentation, a version of a thinking body where the dancer perceives the possibilities of her environment

All within the swirling waters of my “indigeneity” I submerge and surface… submerge and surface…

I am inspired to think and experience indigeneity as more than a geographical placement that define affinities and allegiances, considered, as dominant ingredients of our identity.

I am inspired to foster indigeneity as means to embody and develop better relationships with environment…

Tihei mauri ora!

Tia Reihana  (Ngāti Hine)

Please respect Tia’s copyright and don’t copy these words or images without her express consent. Peace.