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Next generation inspires All Blacks legend Ian Jones to reconnect with his whenua

Jaxin Daniels

All Blacks legend Ian Jones (Ngāi Tahu) is looking to reconnect with his whenua (land) and tīpuna (ancestors) by trekking through the Hollyford Valley in the South Island.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Jones, widely known as Kamo, is a part of Adventure with an All Black, where a small group will have the opportunity to join the former All Black on his four-day journey.

Growing up in a generation when his Māori heritage wasn’t encouraged, Jones reflects on the impacts this had on his connection to his culture.

“I have a genuine desire to start my journey of reconnection and better understand where I’m from,” the 56-year-old says.

“This opportunity with the Hollyford Wilderness Experience could not have come at a better time.”

Jones also credits the next generation and his children especially for giving him the hunger to renew his own sense of belonging.

“Having young New Zealanders learning more about their heritage, their link to this country, their link to this land and that’s really rubbed off on me.

“My kids have been incredibly inspiring; their fluency in te reo is as impressive as it is authentic.

“Just listening to their tongue and how they link everyday life in New Zealand to the Māori culture is amazing.”

The ex-All Blacks lock, who played 79 tests, is also making progress in learning te reo Māori.

“I’ve been taking online courses which is challenging,” Jones says.

“Like everyone else in life, it’s time that you have to dedicate to do that.

“Again, getting around people who are on the same journey or more advanced and connecting to people like that really helps.”

Kamo also admitted he’s never been to his marae (Puketeraki) and really looks forward to experiencing it with his whānau.

“I’ve never visited our marae and I’d love to take my mother at some stage and see where her heritage originates from.”

Jones was excited when presented the offer to do the Hollyford Wilderness Experience and hopes others can join him on the journey.

“It was an amazing opportunity to get down there with Ngāi Tahu guides on the land.”

“It’s not just my journey, there might be others on the trip in the same boat as me.

“Once you connect with others then you can help inspire, nurture and you can go on that journey together and that’s what I’m really looking forward to.”

His journey starts on Tuesday April 16 through the spectacular Hollyford Valley in Fiordland National Park.

Hero Image: Ian Jones is excited to take on the Hollyford Track. Photo / Hollyford Wilderness Experience, Ngāi Tahu Tourism

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