Visiting Tieke Kāainga: the Authenticity of a Maori Welcome



ABSTRACT Whanganui National Park is one of New Zealand's leading tourist attractions. Tieke Kainga (Tieke settlement) is a Department of Conservation camp site in the middle reaches of the river that was occupied in the mid-1990s by members of Tamahaki an indigenous group who claim that the land was taken from them illegally. Although a modus vivendi currently exists whereby the Department and Maori group co manage the site, Tamahaki's struggle for exclusive ownership of it continues. Part of the strategy they adopted to solidify their claim involves welcoming tourists and government officials to Tieke Kāinga in a manner that accords with Maori tradition. Such welcomes establish dramatically that Tamahaki own Tieke and that the guests formally acknowledge by their participation in the performance that they are visitors. This paper questions the authenticity of the welcomes performed there and concludes that they are real for good reason. Authentic Maori welcomes solidify Tamahaki's occupation of Tieke and broadcast the morality of their claim to the site.