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Ngā reo o te kainga: Voices from home Te mana whenua ki Rotorua – Ngāhuia Walker

Well, I was born and grew up, way up the top at Taupiri. We had a wharekāponga with a dirt floor; they [my parents] had manuka, all raupo over the floor. We [the children] enjoyed running up and down the hill and then we walked down from there, down to Waiwaha roadway - Kahumatamoemoe is over there. We used to come down and we would get on the wagon and we go to school. We were the little ones; all the big ones like Pare and Wiremu Tei, they walked. Only us on the wagon and Tahu Paul, Tahu Paul drove the wagon. Ae, and Rota Taiatini and Tiakiawa. Ahhh, we had a great time (N. Walker, pers. comm., 2005).

While advised by the elders of Ngati Te Takinga, Ngati Pikiao that Ngāhuia Walker’s participation in this research project was essential, securing an interview with her was not an easy feat. Born on 9 July 1919, Ngāhuia, the oldest kuia Mōrehu (surviving kuia) of Ngati Pikiao to be interviewed for this stories project, leads an active busy life that sees her regularly engaged in community - social activities locally, nationally and

internationally; consequently she is constantly on the move and often away from her home.

As fortune would have it, our paths conveniently crossed at a hui at Te Takinga Marae in August 2005; it was through this meeting that an interview with her was planned. Three phone calls later and finally, a time and date was set.

Te hui tuatahi The first meeting

Situated on the gentle hill slopes stretching upward to the peak of Mount Ngongotahā, is Ngāhuia’s Western Heights Rotorua home. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that in preparation for the interview, Ngāhuia had arranged a significant display of photographs and memorabilia that spanned the latter years of her life. Earlier photographs, she explained, had been burnt in a house fire “in Kara and Potaua’s house down Mourea”.

Kara and Potaua Walker were Ngahuia’s mother and father in law. Ngāhuia was born Ngāhuia Tahuriorangi.

As well as photos of her extensive whānau who are now located throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Ngāhuia’s collection included photographs, postcards and various curios from her Māori Battalion tour of Egypt and Italy in 2003. Her brother Rāhoroi, a

member of the Battalion B Company, lies in a war cemetery in Cairo Egypt, having died there during World War Two. In recounting this trip Ngāhuia showed pictures and spoke about the visit to the urupā and to her brother’s grave, the people she met, the places they visited and the many exciting experiences she had while touring overseas. It was

apparent that for Ngāhuia, the Egypt – Italy Māori Battalion tour was of great significance; attested to not only through the care she had taken in storing and

maintaining her collection but also, by way of her animated conversation on the topic.

Following this introduction, Ngāhuia ensured we were both comfortably seated around the makeshift table in the garage and she then began her story in earnest.

Te ao tawhito The world of old

Ngāhuia was born at Taupiri, a fortified pā situated above Pārua marae on the ridge between and east of Te Uenga and Ngaukawakawa. Originally occupied by the Tuhourangi people, Taupiri pā became the home of Pārua, son of the illustrious Pikiao ancestor Te Takinga, after the defeat of its original occupants Tuhourangi, at the hands of Te Takinga (Stafford, 1995).

Ngāhuia relayed vivid and happy recollections of her early childhood years spent with her mother Hinehaka and her father Te Kaiaotea Tahuriorangi, in the wharekaponga

“way up the top at Taupiri”. Talking from her suburban home to which she reluctantly moved after leaving Mourea in 1965, Ngāhuia spoke of her birth at Taupiri and then her subsequent upbringing at Kahukatamoemoe, opposite Pārua marae, Hamurana Road, Mourea.

It was during this period of Ngāhuia’s life that her mother Hinehaka died. As a result, she was taken by her mother’s parents Wharehera and Ipo and raised for a time in Manoeka, Te Puke. Ngāhuia’s main memory of her kuia Ipo, recalls her as being a

“lovely old lady” whose forte was preserving fruit from her many fruit trees that grew along the river at Manoeka. Ngāhuia maintained that she would “never forget this old kuia” because of the simple and uncomplicated way in which she lived. Returning to Mourea at age “nine or ten” following the death of her Te Puke tūpuna, Ngāhuia then went to live in Ruātoki with her father’s brother, Ropere Tahuiriorangi. At the time Ropere, being the minister for the areas of Mourea and Tauranga, was also Wharehera and Ipo’s minister; Ngāhuia therefore, had established relationships with Ropere by several means.

Ngāhuia recalled how in the early 1900’s, there were numerous Ngati Te Takinga elders who had become Church Ministers. The Ministers were regionally based and relocated every five years. In Ngāhuia’s words, “Ropere went to Ruatoki and he did all Ruatoki and Opotiki and Te Māruarua also a Minister from Mourea, went to Taupo”. All the kuia and koroua interviewed for this project had distinct and vivid memories of Ropere, Te Maruarua and other Te Arawa ministers of the time, for example Pātoto Fraser, in their capacity as ministers. According to Ngāhuia the ministers maintained close associations with their communities and went regularly to “have karakia at the people’s homes” (N.

Walker, pers. comm., 2005). Mnemonic devices, the Ministers’ modes of transport – a horse and buggy in the case of Te Māruarua; and a moped (a motorised push bike) for Pātoto were frequently referred to by the interviewees from Ngāhuia’s era.

Although long deceased, the Christian influence that people such as Ropere and Te Māruarua communed through their work amoungst the people of Mourea is still

evidenced. Christian karakia form the basis of all services held on Te Takinga marae and work continues on the restoration of Mourea’s currently idle, St Mary’s Church; the former bastion of Mourea ministers such as Ropere and Te Māruarua.

Living in Ruātoki with Ropere, meant that Ngāhuia was immersed in te reo Māori.

Consequently, on her return to Mourea and to Whangamarino School, she was unable to converse in Pākehā and so she “always got the strap for speaking Māori all the time”.

“That was us,” she said, “always getting the strap. I kept talking Māori on the playground and they think I’m swearing and my uncle was gonna walk to the school to beat up the teacher!” Simon and Smith’s (2001) in-depth study of the New Zealand Native Schools system confirms Ngāhuia’s experience of being punished for speaking Māori at school, providing many such attestations from others who attended Native Schools in the same era as Ngāhuia.

The punishment metered out at the Native Schools to Ngāhuia and other children who spoke Māori, was one means by which the Native Schools policy of ‘Europeanising’

Māori was implemented. According to Smith and Simon (2001) this process included the replacing of te reo Māori with English as the primary language of communication. The process was in keeping with the 1880 Native Schools Code which indicated that a Native School would be transferred to the Public Schools system as soon as all the children in it had made ‘sufficient progress in English to enable them to work ‘for the standards of education with advantage’ (Simon, J. & Smith, L. 2001, p. 157).

Thoughts of being punished for talking in Māori at school aside Ngāhuia, speaking somewhat nostalgically about life in Mourea, recalled offhandedly the buggy that “Te Māruarua te minita used to go on” and then continued by saying “great those days, great days”. To elaborate this description of her early days Ngāhuia said:

They were a bit hard but they were great. I mean hard working people, you know. Each one got two or three bags of potatoes and whoever got horses and plough oh well, they plough all the potatoes for all the Mourea crowd. And for the other side [of the Ohau channel], they all go as one up to Pūkahukiwi, up to Waerenga [to work the communal gardens] and where the league club is now [below Rangiwhakakapua] there used to be a whole lot of potatoes there.

Te parau riwai Ploughing potatoes

As is reflected within the stories told by the other Ngati Te Takinga kuia and koroua for this project, Ngāhuia’s depiction of Mourea ‘in those days’ as being ‘great’, is embedded

in the sense of oneness amoung the whānau-community that existed at the time. The interdependent nature of the relationships fostered through the communal nature of daily living, is exemplified within Ngahuia’s statement “ he tino kino mō te mahi kai [people were adept at growing food] whoever got horses and plough, oh well, they plough all the potatoes for the Mourea crowd; and for the other side, they all go as one. Up

Pūkahukiwi, up to Waerenga...” being the communal gardening areas of Ngati Te Takinga – Ngati Pārua and other associated whānau.

The sense of oneness of whānau-community, which was fostered and reinforced through the communal gardening efforts of the Mourea people of the time, is reiterated also through the story telling of the Tuhoe - Waimana elder Hohepa Kereopa, in Paul Moon’s (2005) study of Māori plants, gardening and food. Kereopa maintained:

In the old days you would get someone from across the road to come and help and they would bring some others too. And then, when it was time for their garden to be dug, you would go across the road, or wherever they were, and help them. (Kereopa, H. cited in Moon, P. 2005, p. 22)

According to Ngāhuia the demise of the ‘old ways’ including communal gardening, was a precursor to a decline in the Mourea community. In explanation Ngāhuia made reference to the negative impact of urbanisation and ensuing individualism on traditional life. Her words were:

The old man used to take the tractor and the plough up to Waerenga – Pūkahukiwi. That finished long ago now. I think we were the last ones – my old man used to go and do the ploughing.

Everybody was in it. You know, if you got a bag of spuds to plant. It stopped when we moved to town. Those days it was great; now, well you know, you stop growing things and you buy it from the shop or everybody just has their own garden, grows a few spuds for themselves you know.

Not like before.

Kereopa (2005) concurs with Ngāhuia’s view also connecting the demise of tribal communal gardening to the decline of community. Referring specifically to the community of Waimana, Kereopa (2005) links factors such as the loss of interest in gardening as food became more readily available at shops and the increase in the size of farms as direct causes of this decline. In explanation, Kereopa states:

Fewer and fewer of our people were interested [in gardening meetings]. That was around the same time that all the farms in the area got bigger and a lot of our men were working on farms and

a week, so, there was no one to do the gardening except the women, and if they had lots of kids, well then, they didn’t have the time to do all that work in the garden. And so, the culture of Māori changed.

Also, the gardening went into decline around that time because it was easier for the people to go to the shops – and all the food they needed was there (Kereopa, H. cited in Moon, P. 2005, p. 27).

Through these stories, land holdings such as Pūkahukiwi and Waerenga, due to their prior existence as communal cultivation grounds have emerged as a highly significant means by which the special sense of whānau – community that was felt by Ngāhuia and those of her time, was engendered and maintained. The following section will explore the

subsequent changes to land use that occurred with the introduction of a money economy, the principles that underpinned these changes and their subsequent impact on Ngati Te Takinga.

A double edged sword

Pūkahukiwi: From communal gardens to dairy farm

In prior times Pūkahukiwi and Waerenga were, as Ngāhuia affirms, used as communal cultivation lands. Situated near Whangamarino, Pūkahukiwi extends from the lake edge to the high lands in the west (Stafford, D. 1996). Pūkahukiwi’s current existence as a lucrative hapū Trust Board managed dairy farm, has its origins in part, to the Apirana Ngata 1929 – 30’s New Zealand Government Māori land development scheme (White, 1994; L. Tamati, pers. comm., 2005).

Through this scheme Apirana Ngata, who the Minister of Native Affairs at the time, was authorised to advance money ‘for the better settlement and more effective utilisation of Māori land and the better encouragement of Natives in the promotion of agricultural pursuits and efforts of industry and self-help’ (Ngata, op.cit., p.12, cited in Walker, R.

2001, p. 235). Prior to this act and its subsequent developments, Government advances on Māori Land were inaccessible by Māori on the basis that communal ownership of land deemed Māori ineligible for such advances (Walker, 1990). Communal ownership of land was (and continues to be) viewed as both ‘a feature and a hindrance to the effective development of Māori land’ (White, T. 1994, p. 4).

Ngata’s scheme involved two measures. Firstly, the creation of an incorporation of owners that acted through a committee of management under the guardianship of the Department of Māori Affairs and secondly, the consolidation of the interests of

individuals or families by virtue of their whakapapa, into new consolidated land holdings.

Pūkahukiwi is derived from what was known then, as the Okere consolidation scheme (White, 1994).

Interestingly, the rationale for Ngata’s scheme advocates financial support and encouragement to Māori people for human traits that, as evidenced through out these stories, were common place amoungst the people of Ngati Te Takinga in the days prior to the establishment of the large scale land incorporations, introduced with Ngata’s Māori land development scheme in November 1929 (Walker, 2001). Whilst in Ngāhuia’s time Pūkahukiwi’s dividend was paid in potatoes, today the dividends the land owners receive are primarily in dollars. What is lost perhaps in the transition and ensuing transaction, is the tradition associated with the communal gardening practices of old. Kereopa (2005) explains:

When the whole community used to garden, we would all be talking and things like whakapapa would come out. And I think that in a way, we have lost the art of Whakapapa because we don’t do all those things that were a associated with whakapapa – like gardening. So for example when we called out someone’s name in the garden to get us something, then one of the old people might make a comment about the ancestor that person was named after, and so we would learn

something about our whakapapa from that. When we were all helping our neighbour’s in their gardens then that was the same as helping ourselves. And that is what whakapapa is all about (Kereopa, H. cited in Moon, P. 2005, p. 33).

Extending his explanation of the ‘gardening tradition’ Kereopa states that:

The key to making all this [gardening] work was the love the people had for their potatoes, for their food, for their environment, for everything. There was aroha in the community because we were all kin. And that’s the feeling these people had for gardening because the earth was their kin, the potato was their kin, and that was where their survival was. The air was their kin, and the sunshine was their kin, and that is what is meant by aroha (Kereopa, H. cited in Moon, P. 2005, p.


Kereopa’s words reveal the cultural losses to a community, as sustained through contemporary methods of land ‘development’ within the money economy spoken of previously. These losses include, physical disconnection from the land and the surrounding environment, the breakdown in community communication networks and

diminished intergenerational teaching and learning methods and social systems, unique to the Ngati Te Takinga people ‘in those days’.

Concurring with Kereopa’s thinking, Te Runanga o Ngati Pikiao General Manager Laurence Tamati (pers. comm., 2006). in referring to the time prior to Ngata’s land development scheme said:

Before, all sections of the land such as Pūkahukiwi and Waerenga were under one title. The land was a hapū-Iwi collectively owned taonga. The colonial system took away our traditional way of being and knowing. In prior times, the land belonged to all of us. Ngata’s scheme effectively fragmented the community because it preempted a system whereby legal title and ownership of the land was granted to certain families by virtue of whakapapa. As a result, an elite group of

landowners has emerged. While from a business development perspective this conversion of land title is good, the consequence has been to fragment the community because some of our people are alienated from the land. They have lost the right to what was, in traditional times, their land. Yes today the dividend people receive is paid in dollars but what is the true price of $100.00 and half a mutton? (L. Tamati, pers. comm., 2006).

Te Runanga nui o Te Arawa The Te Arawa Māori Trust Board

The colonial process of individualising Māori land title was assisted by the Te Arawa Māori Trust Board. Established with the assistance of Apirana Ngata (Walker, 2001), the Trust Board’s attempts to facilitate successful financial transactions with the Government on behalf of the Ngati Te Takinga – Ngati Pikiao people, is evidenced within the Board’s 1925 report from its inaugural meeting. Although not naming them, the report makes implicit reference to the Pūkahukiwi and Waerenga land blocks. The report reads:

Love of home – that is of the settlement or kainga – is a powerful sentiment with the Māori. The Board believes in fostering this sentiment, because it is based on a deep-seated tribal pride, which under proper guidance will become the propelling agency to attain success despite difficulties.

[There are] about 1500 acres of what is now waste country near Mourea and Okere Falls [that]

could support quite a number of families if financial assistance were forthcoming. This is beyond the power of the Arawa Trust Board, but if the necessary money could be advanced by the Native Trustee, the board is willing to undertake supervision of the expenditure and the task of making the titles so that the securities may be acceptable (cited in Walker, R. 2001, p. 211).

A double-edged sword, the outcomes of this report and the subsequent developments that followed in the years after, has had both positive and negative effects for Ngati Te Takinga descendants. At the time that it was written, the report added impetus to Ngata’s push for the 1929 Māori land Development Scheme. Subsequently the land between

Mourea and Okere was consolidated and the new ‘owners’ gained access to Government loans. In the case of Pūkahukiwi the seventy-three whānau – owners (White, 1994) were enabled to re-develop their land which, according to White’s report, had fallen into a state of disuse.

For Ngati Te Takinga – Ngati Pikiao, the experience of the incorporation and

consolidation of land holdings has, as Laurence Tamati (pers. comm., 2006) attests to, lead to the fragmentation of the community. Vesting land title in the exclusive ownership of certain families has alienated some Ngati Te Takinga descendants from the land to which they belonged prior to the introduction of the colonial system of land ownership.

(L. Tamati, pers. comm., 2006). In an article in the 1957 18th edition of the Māori news magazine ‘Te Ao Hou’, Eric Schwimmer encapsulates the thinking behind this process of

‘consolidation’. Having interviewed Ngati Pikiao Kaumātua Reiwhati Vercoe, Schwimmer (1957) reported:

One of the things Major Vercoe has learnt is the wisdom of splitting up incorporations into areas belonging as much as possible to one family group. Often a block of Māori land contains several thousand acres and has a very complex ownership. It is easier in practice to manage such a block simply and harmoniously and far better results are obtained if ownership is confined to immediate relatives and the ultimate ideal around Lake Rotoiti is to have areas of about 400-500 acres settled by the nominee of one family, as an individual settler. This is not so easy to achieve but is an ideal worth working for.

According to White (1994) ‘individual blocks [of land] were divided out’ and distinct

‘family’ ownership of land became recognised through ‘consultation and agreement between beneficiaries’ and ‘key ancestral relationships’ (White, T. 1994, p. 5).

Schwimmer (1957) recalls the division of the land blocks in the following way:

The incorporations formed in 1953 were very different from the one which started development thirty years ago. Whereas in those days there was one incorporation for all the people, now there are five: Taheke, Pūkahukiwi, Okere, Waerenga and Te Karaka. Instead of communal enterprises, these farms are now entirely run on business lines, earning profits for the owners (Schwimmer, 1957).

The ‘great those old days’ memories held and articulated by Ngāhuia Walker throughout her story telling, are derived from the time when the people belonged to the land and not vice versa. Ngāhuia was ten years old when Ngata’s scheme was introduced. A kuia morehū, Ngāhuia has first hand experience of the direct social and economic impacts