Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 16 (October 1956)
– 23 –

JUDEA
MEETING HOUSE
IN RETROSPECT

Picture icon

The Rt. Rev. W. N. Panapa, Bishop of Aotearoa, addressed a gathering at the opening of the Judea Meeting House. (Rendell's Photos)

The thirty-six page Souvenir Booklet with the title, “Opening Ceremonies of the Tamatea-pokai-whenua Meeting House and Iwipupu Dining Hall, Saturday, May 5th 1956,” is one of the best of its kind. It contains twenty-eight pages of Maori text with ancient chants, the Maori King's genealogical lines from Tamatea-pokai-whenua, and some notes of a historical nature. Several pages were devoted to a description of the house and its carvings, and the symbolism incorporated into the carving of the various figures is explained. A well deserved tribute is paid to Henare Toka, and his wife, Mere. Henare was the carving expert and Mere was the tutor and supervisor of the tukutuku woven panels. The English text is fully explanatory as to the leading figures in the initiation of the building projects, the plans for the decorative work, the generous measure of assistance from the Tauranga Borough Council, the Tauranga Historical Society, the 20,000 Club, the Chamber of Commerce and many European friends of the Ngati Ranginui tribe.

An interesting feature in the Maori text is the reference to Missionary influence in the days preceding the outbreak of the Maori Wars and this is perpetuated in the adoption of biblical names for the principal tribal maraes of the tribe at Hairini (Cyrene), Maungatapu (the Sacred Mount), Huria (Judaea) and Peterehema (Bethlehem). Originally many of these were settlements established by the missionaries as convenient centres for their converts, who were drawn apart for religious purposes from their kith and kin. A dark cloud subsequently came over the scene with the outbreak of war—a dark cloud, albeit, through which shone the light of high courage and Christian conduct on the part of the people of Tauranga of which there is no parallel in the colonisation history of the British Empire. The confiscation of valuable tribal lands which followed is mentioned in the dying words of tribal elders in the long period of years which followed

– 24 –

that unhappy chapter in Ngati Ranginui history. The descriptive material gives good pen pictures of the Tamatea-pokai-whenua carvings as symbolic art.

Symbolic Carvings

The conduct of this meeting left nothing to be desired, and the host tribe of Ngati Ranginui are deserving of the highest praise for the tremendous amount of work they carried out from the first to the last day of this memorable gathering, and for the never failing spirit of goodwill, the lavish hospitality and efficient organisation in all branches of the affairs of the marae. The marae workers; from the cooks, the waiters, the groundsmen, the wardens, the caretakers of the marquees and sleeping quarters, the pa traffic officers and the office staff all contributed in full measure to the great success of the meeting.

The catering was of a high order and was most favourably commented on by the visitors, both pakeha and Maori. The women of the visiting tribes were loud in their praises for the high standard set by Ngati Ranginui in the quality of workmanship of the whariki (sleeping mats). The kiekie weaving in attractive traditional patterns of the whariki—not only in Tamatea-pokai-whenua but also in other sleeping quarters—was a point that was not lost on the hundreds of visitors and will constitute a challenge to many a marae throughout the land. Well done Ngati Ranginui!

Picture icon

The challenge to prominent visitors at the opening ceremonies for the Judea meeting house was performed by Rev. Te Akonga Pihama, Methodist Minister, Raglan, who is an expert taiaha man. He frequently performs the wero to welcome distinguished guests at Turangawaewae, Ngaruawahia. (Rendell's Photos)

The subject of intoxicating liquor and gambling was touched on by His Lordship Bishop Panapa in his sermon during the Sunday morning service. “These two things were brought to this country by the Pakeha”, His Lordship said, “and generally speaking the Pakeha knows how to deal with them. I take a broad view on these matters, and I say to you, ‘if you abstain or keep control at all times all is well. Never let them become your masters’.”

A Judea memory which will be remembered was the misty rain which lasted on and off throughout the gathering. In a talk to European visitors on the Sunday afternoon, Dr Maharaia Winiata spoke somewhat humourously and said, “We Maoris believe that whenever big chiefs travel to strange places they bring rain with them; and to-day we have with us the very highest and most noble blood in the land.” This feature of the gathering was the subject of quite serious discussion by tribal elders. The weather element was linked with other occasions. There was the occasion when the Sim's Royal Commission opened its enquiries into the Confiscation of Maori tribal lands. Just as it was announced the Commission would commence its Waitara sitting a sudden sharp shower of rain came on. On the Waahi marae, when Tumate, son of King Mahuta, announced he was proceeding to Wellington to negotiate for a settlement of the Waikato-Maniapoto Confiscation, there was a similar shower of rain. On Judea Marae at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 5th May, 1956, just as the unanimous consent of the assembled tribes was given to the Ngati Ranginui Confiscation Resolution (Resolution No. 1 of the Runanganui Conference) there was a short sharp shower of warm rain. A voice spoke across the marae and said. “This rain is a good omen and it is welcome. The tears of the departed of Ngati Ranginui, who suffered so much, bless us for what we have this day resolved.

Tribal leaders promised Ngati Ranginui every help possible in any approach they might make to the Government for some measure of redress in the matter of the Confiscation of their ancestral lands.

Marae Complete

The culmination of over 4 years voluntary work in the construction of Tamatea-pokai-whenua, and Ihuparapara and Iwipupu under such auspicious circumstances augurs well for the future of Ngati Ranginui. The dreams of their departed elders;

– 25 –

Picture icon

The Judea meeting house project is only the first of several in which the people are helped by the Adult Education Service to recapture the art of carving and tukutuku making. The second project was at Bulls where several tribes collaborated in a carved and decorated meeting house. Mr and Mrs Toka were again the tutors. The photograph shows Mrs Lorna Tumu of Bulls hanging up strips of pingao which dry to a golden colour and are used for tukutuku panels. Before weaving could start, both pingao and kiekie had to be gathered and processed, an intricate operation of which the Foxton expert Mrs Reihana was in charge.

Te Rohu Ranui, Ngatoko Rahipere, Winiata Piahana, the families of Te Hikuwai, Peri Kohu, Matiu Kohu, Karora Kohu—all of whom have gone beyond the veil—have now been fulfilled. Two links with the past and the dreams of the Ngati Ranginui elders are the two elderly ladies of Judea marae, Ngawhetu and Ngawaikaukau; these two fine ladies were mentioned as being responsible for the wonderful response of the Ngati Ranginui.

Under the guidance of Maharaia Winiata (now Dr Maharaia Winiata) the families of the departed elders of Ngati Ranginui rallied to the call of their tribal leaders. Under the tuition and supervision of Henare Toka and his wife, Mere, the carving, decorative scroll work, and the weaving of the tukutuku panels was carried out to a triumphant conclusion. The completed marae project on Judea will be a striking monument to the skilful and artistic work of those young people; the names of most of them are recorded in the Souvenir Booklet.

Showplace of Tauranga

It is certain the Judea marae as an assembly place will be one of the show places of the flourishing town of Tauranga. The history of the

– 26 –

Picture icon

In both the Judea and the Bulls projects there were few who had done Maori arts and crafts before so that knowledge was spread at the same time as the building was decorated. At Bulls, all the teaching was concentrated in five to six weeks; during this period all the carvings were finished and all but three of the tukutuku panels. The Bulls house, which is due to be opened next year, will be called Parewahawaha. One reason why the work on this project proceeded so fast was the use of modern builders' machinery, made available by Mr Taylor Brown of Bulls. In the photograph above, Mr Toka is showing Ned Laughton of Feilding the use of an electric saw to make the bevelled edge for the horizontal slabs in the tukutuku.

building programme is an inspiring and fine example of co-operation between the Maori and the European people of the town and district. During the celebrations Dr Maharaia Winiata paid a tribute to the generosity of the Tauranga people and made a pleasing reference to the never failing help which was given freely by His Worship the Mayor of Tauranga, the trades-people and the citizens of the Borough. It was particularly pleasing to all those who were present to see the complete and fine understanding which was exemplified in the participation of both races during the festivities attending the ceremonial opening of “Tamatea-pokai-whenua” and “Iwipupu”.

The Ngati Ranginui are deserving of every encouragement. The resurgence of tribal pride in the cultural aspirations of the race, and the fine achievement of completing community buildings of outstanding excellence on their ancestral marae reflects a moral fibre of remarkable resilience.

Others Will Follow

A feature which must give the Ngati Ranginui tribe a great deal of satisfaction was the reaction from several visiting tribal leaders who announced during the celebrations their determination to go ahead with some similar project to the fine buildings of Judea. This is a distinction in the field of cultural art for Ngati Ranginui which comes well as further proof that the work of the late Sir Apirana Ngata in promoting this aspect of Maori culture will still go on.

An interesting and valuable feature of the Souvenir Booklet is the inclusion of classical Maori poetry in the form of powhiri (welcome chant), waiata (old time songs), patere (tribal action songs of old), ngeri (war chant), karakia (ritual chants). These compositions enshrine the ancient and proud history of Ngati Ranginui.