I Te Mate Ka Tu Ka Ora
The Whitianga people were once in force, but over the years their number and strength declined.
But today the people have stood up and banded together.
We will now live again and be strong.
This expresses the thoughts in the minds of the local people last November, when a new dining hall was opened at Whitianga. It was named ‘Rangi Te Tae Taea’ after a tipuna of the Delamere, Black, Poihipi and Tawhai families. The historic meeting house on the marae, Tutewake, is one of the oldest on the East Coast, but the present meeting house was re-erected in 1957.
The people at Whitianga are of Te
Whanau-a-Apanui Tribe, but the hapu at Whitianga is known as Ngati Paeakau, which means ‘where the bodies drifted or landed on shore’. The name originated from a fatal accident at the Motu River in 1904 when 16 Maori children were drowned while crossing the flooded river on their way home from school. The sole survivor of that tragedy, Mrs Kararaina Monita, was present at the opening of the new hall.
Very heavy rain fell on the opening day, and after the wero, haka and powhiri, the official guests went into the meeting house. They included Mr J. H. W. Barber and Mr J. Rangihau, both of the Rotorua District Office of the Department of Maori Affairs, Mr J. Loving, County Council Clerk, Mr Haratua Rogers, Chairman of the Waiariki District Council, and their wives, and the Mayor of Opotiki, Mr Chatfield.
Speeches of welcome and thanks for assistance given in the erection of the new dining hall were made by Mr Tu Toopi of Whitianga, Mr Peter Ngamoki of Omaio, Mr Norman Perry of Opotiki, Mr Syd Tawhai of Omaio, and Mr Ngakohu Pera of Waioeka.
The weather then cleared, so everyone again assembled outside, where Mr Rogers, Mr Loving, Mr Chatfield and Mr Rangihau spoke. Mr Barber, who had been invited to perform the opening ceremony, then replied to the speeches of welcome and congratulated the people on their enthusiasm in completing the project. He also referred to the progressive outlook of the people towards the Trade Training and Pre-employment courses and to the high standard of Maori housing in the area. He then declared the hall officially open, saying, ‘May your young virile people receive great fruits from its use.’
Father Murray dedicated the hall, the flag was raised, and the door unlocked by Mrs Monita. A delicious meal followed.