Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 44 (September 1963)
– 7 –

of Mr R. P. Milner, O.B.E.

Picture icon

Reupene Pahau Milner, O.B.E., has been a kindly and experienced leader of the people of Whangara for nearly half a century.

Mr Reupene Pahau Milner's recent announcement of his wish to terminate his stewardship of the Whangara Blocks aroused deep regret among the present owners of the properties. In his relations with the people of the Whangara settlement, north of Gisborne, Mr Milner has been regarded not only as a guardian of the economy but also as a revered link with the earlier generation which founded the prosperity of the community.

Mr Milner was born in 1885, and was the son of the proprietor of a general store at Tuparoa. One of twelve children in the Milner family, he spent his boyhood in the household of an aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Reupene Pahau Poki, from whom he took his Christian names.

He attended the Tuparoa school to the sixth standard and hoped to enrol at Te Aute College, but with others of his generation he lost that opportunity because of a lack of accommodation at the already-famous Maori school.

Pahau Milner began work on the extensive Ihungia Station, at a time when the East Coast sheepfarming was still emerging on the bush-clad hills. After his marriage to Matekino Heihi, a daughter of Mr and Mrs Pine Heihi, he moved to Mr Heihi's farmlands, where he further increased his knowledge of stock management practices and assumed larger responsibilities.

His capacities attracted the attention of Sir Apirana Ngata, who at that time was devoting much of his energy to the promotion of Maori farming.

About the time of the outbreak of the First World War, leases of a number of the Whangara blocks were expiring, and in accordance with Sir Apirana's advice the Maori owners prepared to establish their own managements.

In 1916, at the request of Sir Apirana Ngata, Pahau Milner undertook the supervision of the Puatai and Pakarae blocks as an assistant to the manager, Mr W. G. Sherratt. The association continued and gained strength steadily until Mr Sherratt's death in 1942, when Mr Milner succeeded him in the principal post.

As time passed his supervising duties were extended to cover many other interests of the Whangara people as well as land management, and Mr and Mrs Milner together provided leadership in almost all phases of community activity.

In its effort to devise an appropriate recognition of these services, which have extended over a period of almost fifty years, the committee comprising representatives of the respective groups of owners finally decided upon the formal presentation of an illuminated address, accompanied by personal gifts to Mr and Mrs Milner. The ceremony was the occasion of a large gathering at the Whitireia meeting-house, when the guests of honour were showered with compliments and good wishes. The climax of the programme was the presentation of the illuminated address to Mr and Mrs Milner.

The text of this spoke of the people's love, and their sincere and deep appreciation for all that Pahau Milner had done for them over so long a time. Signatories on behalf of their respective subdivisions were Mr Titi Tangohau, Mr Rawiri Kutia, Mrs Matekino Paenga, Mrs Te Oti Rupi, and Mr Sam Reid, with Mr J. A. Thorburn as secretary of the Whangara Incorporation.

The tendering of the address was followed by numerous gifts, including three water-colours by Mr S. Bugden depicting different aspects of the Whangara landscape. These, Mr Milner later assured the gathering, would be constant and nostalgic reminders of the happy years he and Mrs Milner had spent among the people of Whangara.