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No. 53 (December 1965)
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During their visit to Wellington, essay winners Caroline Te Rauna and Henrietta Kaiwai visited Parliament Buildings. From left to right, Mr W. T. Ngata, private secretary to the Minister of Maori Affairs; Mr H. M. Jennings, principal of the Ngata Memorial College; Mr I. G. MacFarlane, New Zealand Travel and Holidays Association; Caroline Te Rauna; the Hon. J. R. Hanan, Minister of Maori Affairs, and Henrietta Kaiwai.

These two essays were the winning entries in a competition held recently at Ngata Memorial College, Ruatoria, for essays on a local historical or legendary theme.

The contest was sponsored by the New Zealand Travel and Holidays Association, the prize being a three day visit to Wellington.

The Meeting-house

Porourangi is the name given to the historic meeting-house of the Ngati Porou people which stands majestically at the foot of Puputa Hill. To reach Porourangi you have to travel seven miles north-east of Ruatoria over roads of good quality.

The timber for this meeting-house was fetched from the Mangaoporo Valley and had to be brought down the Waiapu River. When the logs reached a place where they could be brought ashore easily, the many helpers would sledge them up to the meeting-house site.

It took twelve years, from 1852 to 1864, to build the house. When it was completed it was truly a work of art. Each part of it is designed not only to display Maori skills, arts and crafts, but also to represent ancestral figures, elders and warriors who performed great deeds for their people. All these ancestors lived within the Ngati Porou tribal area.

The carvings were done by Tamati Ngakaho, an elder who lived at Whakawhitira.

The tukutuku patterns are very unusual. Along each wall traditional Maori patterns, such as poutama, roimata, patikitiki and purapurawhetu, alternate with images of different ancestors and warriors, each one with his name included in the tukutuku work.

Two figures on the poutokomanawa, the posts in the middle of the meeting-house, represent Hamo and Rongomaianiwaniwa, the

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wife and daughter of Porourangi, the chief of the Ngati Porou tribe. The tekoteko, the figure on top of the meeting-house, represents Tuterangiwhiuiti, who was a descendant of Porourangi and a great warrior.

At the foot of the amo, or side boards, are the heads of two dogs which represent two brothers, Korohau and Kuku. There were really four brothers, and all were brave warriors. Together with other warriors of the Ngati Porou tribe they went to fight the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe. They fought near Te Araroa at a place called Manairoa. After a long and fierce battle three of the brothers were discovered amongst the dead. The chief of the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe referred to them as dogs, thus giving the carver the idea of carving the heads of dogs to represent the brothers.

The maihi or barge-boards are carved only at their lower ends (raparapa). This carving is to show that no eating, smoking or entertainment should take place in this meeting house. However this rule is not being carried out, and today seems of little importance.

On the carvings above the door and window there are three figures. Two of these represent two sisters, Rutonga and Rongomaitauarau, who were the wives of Tumoana-kotore. The third figure, Tumoana-kotore, is between the two women; hence the saying, ‘How lovingly the wives embrace him’.

After the flood in 1937, Porourangi had to be moved from the creek-side to its present site. This undertaking was supervised by Sir Apirana Ngata. The tukutuku work was all renewed and the scroll work and carvings were re-painted. The most impressive part of the operation was the shifting of the tahu, or the ‘ridge pole. One hundred people were engaged in moving this.

About seventy yards from Porourangi stands the Bungalow, the home of the late Sir Apirana Ngata. It is a beautifully built family home, surrounded by flower gardens, shrubs, a lawn and a tennis court.

On the death of Sir Apirana he was laid to rest beside his father, Paratene Ngata, on Puputa Hill overlooking Porourangi, the Bungalow and the Waiapu Valley.

Also on Puputa Hill is the great warrior chief Ropata Wahawaha. He was in supreme command of the Waiomatatini marae, a dictator and a counsellor to his people. He was also responsible for urging Sir Apirana Ngata to further his education, as he foresaw that in time he would become a great leader. Sir Apirana was in his day supreme leader of Waiomatatini, and his heart and soul were for Porourangi, Ngati Porou and the Maori people.