04 May AKA – Te Hau Ora a Tangata, Nā Justin Gush
He taonga tēnei āhuatanga
Ko Aka, ko koe, ko au, ko tātou
Nō te kauru o te rangi tēnei kaupapa
Nō ngā Whare Wānanga o tāua mātua
Aka is everything that we are,
Its intent was to capture the essence of our origins as people,
From the very depths of our understanding of our cosmology,
And relating to our houses of learning and the taonga our old people left us.
The Aka fitness and health programme has taken many years of research to develop, drawing
substance from a broad expanse of Māori history (Whakapapa), Cosmology (Mātai Tuarangi),
Navigation (Whakatere), Migration (Hekenga), Medicinal Remedies (Rongoā Māori), Martial Arts
(Hāpai a Tū), Hunting (Kohi Kai), Fishing (Hī Ika), Conservation (Atawhai) and the Environment
These different sections of nature invariably sign posted to the forest of Tāne Mahuta, finally to the
upper reaches of the Whanganui River, where the Aka vine is plentiful. The Aka vine was and is still
used for the weaving of Hinaki (Eel Traps), baskets and ladders; the ladders in some instances were
over a quarter of a mile in length, and were both flexible and durable.
Justin Gush has been involved with Aka since the mid 1990’s and has been graded as a Manukura
(Instructor) by Matua Piripi Menehira. The Aka programme is a threefold kaupapa which includes;
Tikanga Māori, Te Hāpai a Tū and Aka. During the Toi Tangata Hui a Tau 2020, Justin
delivered an introduction to Aka workshop which focuses on the first part of the programme called
‘Te Ruruku a Tinana’.
Te Ruruku a Tinana is an important aspect, because once you have acknowledged where you come
from, you then go back in to the personification of all of those elements through your body, so there
is no need for your words or your lips to actually express anything, Mā tō tinana āua kupu hei whakatangata.