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No. 62 (March 1968)
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KATENE HEPI

When Ngatoroirangi, who arrived on Te Arawa canoe and founded Ngati Tuwharetoa, cast a tree from a hill, the waters of the sacred lake, Kopua Kanapanapa (Taupo), sprang forth.

It was a tree that felled Hohepa Katene Hepi on December 1 and with his death a lake of tears sprang from the eyes of relatives and friends.

When a large party of mourners took him from the marae at Kauriki, where he had lain, to Whanganui, the burial ground of his ancestors in Western Bay, the two lakes, the sacred and the symbolic, were one.

Haere, Katene. Haere.

There Katene, the eldest son of Te Kahurangi Hepi, leading elder of the Parekawa subtribe of Ngati Tuwharetoa, was buried alongside his grandfather Hepi Te Huia.

He was born 46 years before at Bulls on the site of the recently opened meeting house. Parewahawaha. Also a member of the Pare-wahawaha sub-tribe of Heeni Hepi (née Gotty), a direct descendant of the poetess Puhiwahine.

Educated at Waihi Convent, Taupo, he was one of the most experienced bushmen in the King Country and had worked as a mill manager and a bush contractor.

A few weeks before his death he had been elected a member of the committee of the 16,000 acre Hauhungaroa 2C Incorporation. Katene was dedicated to serving the interests of the owners in the bush his family, with others, had pioneered for the incorporation, which now combines timber and farm development.

He had become accomplished in whai korero and it was tragic that he should be struck down just as he was coming into his own. He was killed in the Hauhungaroa bush.

His death has made others the more determined to carry out the ideals for which he strove.

He leaves his parents, brothers Ngahianga, Patoropa, Hurihanga, Korota, Rawiri, Tiniwaata and Ruka, sisters, Rihi Puhiwahine, Waiparemo, Rerehau, Ngarino, Punateahu and Matetu-O-Rihi, his wife Rai (née Amorangi) and 17 children of whom the eldest is Puau (Bernard).

A devout Catholic, he worked hard to provide his children with the best in education.

On the news of his death Father T. Curton of Taumarunui went into the bush to anoint him. Father D. Horrigan of Waihi said requiem mass at Kauriki. Father J. Van Tilborg, a friend, came from Whangarei to stay in the whare puni, lead prayers and whai korero before the cortege left. Father P. O'Connor of Ohakune also attended the last rites.

Attendances at Kauriki were large with the 200-seat whare kai holding from three to seven sittings for each meal. Mourners came from Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Bulls, Wanganui, Marton, Mangakino, Taupo, Hamilton, Auckland and other places.

The people of four areas—Waihi, Kauriki, Takapou, Tiraha and Whanganui—advanced claims he be buried there. His children chose Whanganui, a place he himself had cherished.

He had surveyed the road through the Whakarawa Block (Hauhungaroa 3A, 2A and 2B) to the bay, previously accessible only by

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boat from the lake, and spent much time there. A marae at Whanganui was a project dear to his heart and is now being given fresh consideration.

At Christmas, about 200 members of the Hepi family gathered at Whanganui, erecting marquees along the lakeside, to spend Christmas with him.

Two priests, Father G. Haring of Hamilton and Father G. Mertens of Putaruru braved the precarious mud road to say mass on Christmas Day and other masses for Katene, who lies on a hill with tracks cut to give the grave a clear view of the lake below and, to its left, a waterfall.

In his death he breathed fresh life into the place he loved so much, Whanganui.

Mate atu he tete kura, ara mai he tete kura.

Picture icon

Katene Hepi

Maori Sport

Taumarunui is becoming recognised as a centre for Maori sport. Responsible for this to a large extent, is the King Country Maori Sports Association, set up at Taumarunui five years ago.

Early criticism of the association was based on the effect that ‘Maori only’ sporting activities could have on the advocated integration of Maori and Pakeha. But the Association's stated aim was to encourage Maori players to compete in their own tournaments, gain confidence and then enter in open events. It claims that it has already achieved success along these lines. The first venture was the King Country Maori tennis championships, and 80 competitors took part from many parts of the King Country. A team was sent to the New Zealand championships, brought out of recess at Wairoa by Sir Turi Carroll, the same year.

Miss Hine Peni returned to Taumarunui with the women's singles title, which she regained this year at the 1968 championships at Rotorua. She also shared the women's doubles with her sister Kaheta, and the team won the district shield.

Three years ago the association was host for the New Zealand Maori junior championships at Taumarunui.

Last year the King Country championships were made open and a large Arawa contingent took part. Visitors from other centres also helped to make up the field of over 100.

The next sport the association sponsored was table tennis and again the first King Country closed championships drew huge entries. The next year the tournament was made open, then two years ago the association obtained the authority of the New Zealand Table Tennis Association to sponsor the first ever New Zealand Maori table tennis championships. Once again, entries came from as far afield as Wellington and Whangarei.

Gisborne arranged the second New Zealand championships last year, so that the sport on a national basis for Maori players seems assured.

Expanding further, the association ran, five years ago, the first King Country Maori Indoor Basketball Championships. Visiting teams from Ngaruawahia, Whakatane, Waiouru and Waitara made up the total of 12 teams.

The two-day fixture gained in popularity until last year it was necessary to refuse entries after the total of 20 had taxed the facilities for playing to the very limit.

Although run by a separate organisation, the King Country Maori golf championships

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started two years ago have also proved popular, attracting an almost capacity field.

When a local elder, Titi Tihu, named the new dining room at Ngapuwaiwaha pa, Taumarunui, ‘Rangikapuia’ about seven years ago, he expressed the hope that it would become the meeting place of people, especially the young, from all quarters of the country. The wish has been realised with the regular groups of outside competitors who have been accommodated at the pa in the centre of the township, for the many sports fixtures for Maori competitors in the last five years.

E. R. Clark