A Northland hapu is hoping to strengthen its relationship with indigenous Taiwanese people by sending young people on a cultural exchange.

Ngati Manu hosted a delegation of Taiwanese people at the Te Ra Pomare celebrations on Saturday which commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by their ancestor Pomare II at Opua 178 years ago.

The delegation of six was led by Taiwan MP Kolas Yotaka who is a member of one of 16 indigenous tribal groups in the East Asian island.

Ngati Manu spokesman Arapeta Hamilton said Kolas spoke of how the Taiwanese people had to struggle for their language and for recognition of their land rights and customs - all things Maori could relate to.


"Immediately we made this connection based on our whanaungatanga (kinship). The project we're doing is called Hawaiki Nui, it's a tie-up between our people here and the indigenous people in Taiwan because we share similar language, similar customs, and similar mitochondrial DNA."

The relationship between the Taiwanese people and Ngati Manu began after the hapu was invited to a Christmas dinner in Auckland by the Taiwanese Business Community.

They were invited as the community were learning a Maori song and wanted to form a relationship with Maori from the north.

Mr Hamilton said he now wanted to send 10 Ngati Manu youth to Taiwan to learn about the indigenous Taiwanese cultural.

"At the moment my people sit in their Ngati Manu world and they don't actually go out so this is opening our young people's eyes to the possibilities.

"Learning about other indigenous cultures strengthens their own indigeneity."

Mr Hamilton said he spoke to Kolas about the exchange and she was in full support of it.

"She fitted in so well we went down to the river in the waka. She took off her high heels, got into the waka and paddled, came back and she planted some trees. She said that's how indigenous people relate to one another, by the doing of things together."

Mr Hamilton said the next step was to organise funding to ensure the young people are able to fly to Taiwan.