Our Story

The Ika story is a story about several sets of aspirations developing into an education initiative with a focus on acknowledging Mana Atua, Mana Whenua, Mana Moana and Mana Tangata within tribal boundaries and Mana Maori Motuhake or ancestral rights of succession.

The Main Contributors

The 3 main contributors:

One: Kaumatua and leading representatives from Ngatiwai, Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine and Ngati Whatua, who desire to develop and help fulfil their iwi and hapu aspirations.

Two: Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust, the mission of which is to represent and develop Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) whanau, hapu and iwi interests, in regard to Matauranga Maori.

Three: Cornerstone Education, the mission of which is to make a contribution to Maori aspirations through our education programmes using it’s long experience in this sector to help achieve this.

The main contributors form the Ika Stakeholder Group which is continually growing as we consult wider in the communities and hapu within Te Tai Tokerau and Tamaki Makaurau.

Our Common Purpose

Our common purpose is to develop a distinctively Maori venture with a foundation that embraces the principles and practices of the Declaration of Independance and the Treaty of Waitangi. The aim is to embed Kaitiakitanga, and Matauranga Maori into education programme delivery.

The initiative also creates the opportunity to bring together education, conservation and community in a meaningful way for all.

This involves:

  • Connecting people to their rights and responsibilities in relation to the land and sea with a focus on conservation and sustainability
  • Connecting people to their whanau and hapu aspirations
  • Providing people with safe access to their underwater environment via scuba diving and marine activities.

Why “Ika”?

There was a lot of discussion around what we would be called or the appropriate name for our kaupapa. The discussions led to the name “Ika”.

The relevance of our name comes from the fact that Te Ika Nui was the renowned son of the eponymous Ngatiwai ancestor, Manaia and so therefore many of our best providers from the sea have been named Ika.

The term, “Mataika” was the title given to the first victim of the enemy by those who were the guardians and protectors of their women, children, land and protocols.

For our kaupapa, Ika is a provider a custodian and guardian chosen to be responsible for the stewardship of the foreshore and sea for perpetuity.

For this purpose, we are called, Ika

Kaupapa (Our Mission)

Our kaupapa has been given to us in the form of a whakatauki (proverb) which comes from the writings of Houpeke Piripi, Kaumatua of Ngatiwai Iwi and the hapu of Te Uri O Hikihiki.

“Ka tu ki uta, Ka noho ki te moana”

This refers to the Ngatiwai people who are the children of the sea.

For our kaupapa, Ka tu ki uta, means that we stand and represent and take responsibility on land. Ka noho ki te moana, means that we reside on the water because we are sea people.

This also literally means, “We stand on the shore and we live on the sea”, however, for our kaupapa we have given acknowledgment to our rights of succession as protectors and stewards of the incoming and outgoing tides.

To bring them both together, “Ka tu ki uta, Ka noho ki te moana” or “Guardians of the incoming and outgoing tides”.

Guardians of the incoming and outgoing tides is a metaphor for our Kaumatua who are being prepared to pass on to the spiritual realm and for those who are still being born, our tamariki and our mokopuna. We are responsible to provide for our elders and to ensure that our resources are able to sustain the coming generations.

In a practical way, we work towards contributing to our kaupapa by having a focus on:

  • Having a tangata kaitiaki and the Kaimoana Customary Fishing Regulations throughout all of our programmes
  • Connecting people to their rights and responsibilities in relation to the land and sea with a focus on conservation and sustainability
  • Connecting people to their whanau and hapu aspirations
  • Providing people with safe access to their underwater environment via scuba diving and marine activities
  • Consulting with the kaumatua involved and supporting the Ika kuapapa

“Learn to Live”

It’s about understanding your true identity in relation to your whakapapa, your roles and responsibilities, and the principles and values to live life by.

“Learn to Live” is a journey that results in people contributing to a positive future for themselves, their whanau, and their community.

Our Tohu (Logo) – The Red Whai

Our tohu (symbol/brand) was chosen from one of the four Ngatiwai mana. The Whai Repo (Red Electric Stingray) is the tohu or sacred symbol of our Kaitiakitanga kaupapa or ethos.

The markings on Whai Repo consists of a single Puhoro in the wings, another Puhoro including a Mango Pare and the rest of the body consists of Una Unahi.

The Puhoro represents speed and agility both on land and in water and the Mango Pare represents the hammer head shark which are known to hunt together in packs or schools.

Una Unahi represents the scales on a fish, which comes from the story of when Maui pulled up the North Island and his brothers hacked it up, representing the mountains, valleys, rivers and streams.



Carmen Hetaraka (our Stakeholder Relationship Manager / Kaiwhakahaere) was instrumental in the consultation with key people from Ngatiwai, Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine and Ngati Whatua at a whanau, hapu and iwi level.

Te Warihi Hetaraka a tohunga whakairo from the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust. We met with the trust representatives, including the chairman and Te Warihi Hetaraka to understand their kaupapa and to explain to them our aspirations and how we believed we could align to their kaupapa.

We then asked Te Warihi to give us an identity and a challenge that best represents how we would both work together.

Te Warihi Hetaraka discussed his thoughts with Tokowhati Martin and Carmen Hetaraka, who then presented their decisions to us on the 1st of November 2013. This included our name, a suitable challenge in the form of a whakatauki or proverb and the names that would support our programmes.

Kaumatua Houpeke Piripi from Ngatiwai iwi and Te Uri O Hikihiki hapu issued his statement which determined our kaupapa.