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No. 21 (December 1957)
– 34 –

MANGATAWA

The Maori people have their own idea of their historic monuments and it is different from the European. Perhaps you could put it briefly by saying that they are more concerned with the sacred side of them than with their beauty.

A little while ago I visited a block of Maori land named Mangatawa. It had been developed and was being transferred to an incorporation.

Driving in, we were met by a magnificent [ unclear: ] earded figure. Tareha (Tom) McLeod He belonged to this land: behind him was his house. In the background a small peak rose out of the landscape, the site of old Mangatawa Pa where Kahungunu lived once. There was a lot of activity on the hill that might not have altogether pleased Kahungunu. Trucks were taking metal from the side of the hill.

Mr McLeod explained that these intruders were the Ministry of Works. Did they not object to the violation of this sacred spot? Ah yes, they had objected, said Tom, but when they found it was no use they decided to make the irresistible force of the State pay as clearly for the metal as possible. The price they got pleased them. Tom got the job of tally clerk for the Ministry to count the number of truckloads taken out. Money was important for the new incorporation. There was a small area of land by the road over which they had an option. Originally it had been part of the block and it was there that the people hoped to build their new meeting house.

In this way the past could in a way be restored or carried on; the meeting house would be used by the younger generation, and part of that meeting house, as it were, would be the money received for the hill.

The name of the meeting house will be Tamapahore, commemorating the great ancestor of Mangatawa; and also the famous meeting house called Tamapahore that stood at Karikari Point on the shores of Tauranga harbour last century.

Tom McLeod told us it had been a fully carved meeting house now fallen down and that the carvings were still lying on the site. We went to see them. By the site there was an old burial place that had belonged to the Karikari marae. The last burial we could see was that of an apostle of the Ratana church, Waata Wepiha, who died in 1953.

A hundred yards away, near a lofty tree, were the remains of Tamapahore. From the spot you could see the whole of Tauranga harbour, and also the black station cattle grazing by a nearby swamp. The timbers and carvings of the old house were stacked carefully and well protected by many thicknesses of corrugated iron, held down by barbed wire. Nobody lived there now; the road was too far away, the ghosts above stood watch perhaps over the old timbers.

Many of the carvings were very fine and generally they were well preserved. With some careful work all could be restored to their original beauty.