Ngāi Tahu – Cultural Mapping Project


Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis, c2006. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Collection, Ngāi Tahu Archive, 2017-0172

Kelly Davis was a staunch advocate for the protection of Kāi Tahu cultural values, mahinga kai and the area where he grew up – in and around his beloved Waihao River.

A great-grandson of the influential 19th Century leader Rāwiri Te Maire, Kelly grew up on his family land at Waihao where he spent most of his childhood at the creek on the family’s property, or at the nearby Waihao River. He often roamed the Wainono, Waihao and Waimate areas with his father and other kaumātua.

Kelly was one of the first people to provide material for the Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project. “The one thing that GIS mapping has done for us is that it’s actually given us the eyes of the bird that flies over the top. We are talking about the strength for our children to realise that we have our rights on every part of this whenua.”

Kelly passed away on 15 March 2007, just one day before his sixtieth birthday. He is buried in the small urupā at Waihao Marae, between the Waihao and Waitaki rivers that he treasured so dearly.

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