A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner

A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner

A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner


12/10/2022 - 08:33

South Australia's Lake Gairdner, the location of the Emirates Team New Zealand Wind Powered Land Speed World Record attempt, is a place of significant cultural and historical importance to the local Gawler Ranges Aboriginal people who have been fundamental in accommodating the land speed campaign for the team and especially pilot Glenn Ashby.

Ashby, along with everyone at Emirates Team New Zealand has a long standing partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and has also developed a close relationship with the Gawler Ranges Aboriginal Corportation in the planning and has a true appreciation of the unique location, "This location is really one of a kind. It has taken a huge amount of time to create this vast landscape so for us to have this opportunity to come here and use this surface at such a special location and have the blessing of the Gawler Ranges people is very special to us."

In an intimate ceremony on the lake surface, a meeting of Trans-Tasman indigenous cultures between representatives of the local Wilyara cultural clan and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei provided a moment of reflection and thanks for everyone involved in the campaign.

"It has been really important that Emirates Team New Zealand have wanted to acknowledge the indigenous as they do back in Aotearoa." said Monique Maihi-Pihema. "So for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as the Kaitiaki or guardians of the cultural aspects for Emirates Team New Zealand it was important that we encourage that connection with the indigenous people of this land. So it was great to be able to meet with the Tangata Whenua, or the people of the land today." 

A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner
A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner

Monique Maihi-Pihema and Wyllis Maihi from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei exchanged gifts with Tracey and Janice Reid from the Wilyara cultural clan beside the team's land speed craft 'Horonuku', its name meaning 'gliding swiftly across the land'.

Speaking on the significance of the occasion, Wyllis Maihi spoke about the value of connection to the space and the local people.

"Coming here to the lake was connecting to this space, to this Whenua and realising this is what we call old land. The people of this place have been here for many many many generations. So it was a special time for us to come here and connect with the people of this place and also come into their sacred spaces.

We, at home in Aotearoa have our sacred spaces so to share their stories, their dreamtime korero and also to listen to their stories, we found a lot in common."

 The feeling was mutual for Tracey Reid from the Wilyara cultural clan, "It was powerful. I really felt it. I could feel them and our ancestors coming together uniting as one. It was awesome. I cannot describe it any other way."

For Ashby and the team it represented a long awaited milestone in what has been a frantic few weeks.

"Having Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei come across from New Zealand is a really special thing, and having that Trans-Tasman cultural significance is a really special bond and for not only the craft to come across but everybody to get together and be as one, which will hopefully make this craft go even faster than it looks." said Ashby

 "After today, it is starting to feel real now, we have got 20-25 knots, we need a day of 30-35 knots to really have a chance of going quite fast. And the record of 202.9km/h is an incredible feat to try and break. It took Richard Jenkins over 10 years to break the previous record before that. So it is not an easy task, I absolutely realise that but I am up for the challenge and everyone at Emirates Team New Zealand are up for the challenge as well."

A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner
A Meeting of Cultures on Lake Gairdner
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