Fishing skills

Matariki: Honing the hunting skills of Maori men brings positive change


The Breethas: Te Ahikaiata Durie (left), Te Manawa Netana-Williams and Kairewa Tepania. Photo / Provided

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They call themselves the Breethas, a group of young Maori men in their twenties who took up hunting and fishing to maintain the traditions of their tūpuna.

And on Friday, to celebrate Matariki, this group will put their hunting skills to the test.

“Practical mahi is our reason for being. Whenever we go hunting or diving, we always give back to whānau,” says 21-year-old Arana Millar, who joined the group to help away from a troubled life. .

“I pretty much grew up around the whole drug and gang scene. I’ve been through and seen some pretty rough stuff, buddies in and out of prison. That’s what I didn’t want to be.

“If I was still in Kura and someone came to teach me how to hunt and gather, I would gladly do so. It allowed me to be true to myself and to be surrounded by people who want to help you grow.”

Food for the whānau: Kiriri Nohotima.  Photo / Provided
Food for the whānau: Kiriri Nohotima. Photo / Provided

The Breethas in Mahi were formed in 2020 by a group of buddies living in Manawatū who felt the need to provide a positive outlet and challenge negative stereotypes of Maori men.

The group of nine core members and other fellow locals go hunting and fishing most weekends and provide kai for their whānau and communities, documenting their exploits on social media.

“Initially it was just all of us boys just going out to stay out of trouble, to get away from the scum, the antics of the city, and just hang out and have fun,” says Kirihi Nohotima, 22. years, another member. of nine.

“We had the bonus of bringing kai back to feed our kuia and koroua and just enjoying each other’s company. It’s never a dull moment when we’re together. It’s just a good buzz.”

This year, Aotearoa will officially celebrate Matariki with a public holiday on Friday, June 24. Kirihi says the outdoor skills and traditions practiced by his ancestors carry on through him and his friends.

“Some of the activities we do, like collecting kai and returning to our whānau and feeding our villages, were normal for our ancestors,” Kirihi explains.

Hunting provides kai to the community.  Arana Millar with this take.  Photo / Provided
Hunting provides kai to the community. Arana Millar with this take. Photo / Provided

Camaraderie and trust are some of the positive outcomes established within the group. Another important value is mental well-being.

“Being in the water is very therapeutic. You’re in a big ocean. You’re not the best dog, you’re just another swimming fish. It’s good for your mental health. You have people to talk to. These boys, I entrust my life to them.”