from left: Mark, Tumanako, Ariki (front) and Janey.
Tamariki involvement is at the heart of everything Mark Cassidy and Janey Clark do.
So when it came to studying for a Certificate in Tū Taua at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the ability to marae noho together with their kids Tumanako and Ariki, sealed the deal.
"It just felt right," says Mark.
"We whakapapa to Waikato and Te Rarawa, so our marae are just a little bit further out. This allows us and our children - on a monthly basis - to be on the marae to freshen the wairua, the hinengaro and the tinana."
"It was important for us to come so we could spend time on the marae together as a whānau."
The noho-based programme is hosted during a weekend by Umupuia Marae in Maraetai, under the tutelage of Malcolm Kerehoma. Through the seaside location, the diverse tauira, who come from all over Auckland, have also gained insights into the wāhi tapu of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki.
As a level four Māori martial art practice, Tū Taua provides the opportunity for participants to learn the ancestral ways of the warrior, in a culturally-safe environment that is open to all.
However, they are put through their paces as part of the training, including being put into uncomfortable spaces through debates such as 'should wāhine do the wero?'
"There are some amazing speakers in our roopu," says Mark.
"With the different styles and the information shared, we can discuss things and get clarification on anything we're not too sure about."
Mark has been dedicated to the practice of te reo Māori and Mau Rākau for the last decade, including stints at Hoani Waititi, but found it difficult to fit the commitment around his full-time routine.
"So not only do we get to learn and embrace tū taua and get a better understanding to build on the knowledge we have, what was important was we wanted to involve our tamariki."
Janey says for both her and Mark, tū taua was also about embracing the tikanga and learning something new.
"It's personal development for ourselves," says Janey.