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No. 69 (1971)
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Mr Jack Barber, Maori and Island Affairs District Officer for Rotorua, one of the speakers at the ceremony

Unveilings at Mokai

Close to 1,000 visitors and old residents of Mokai te Ure, the almost deserted terminal village of the Taupo Totara Timber Company railway mill line, gathered in nostalgic and happy mood for the unveiling of two tombstones to two elders of the Ngati Te Kohera sub-tribe of the famous Tuwharetoa tribe which inhabit the farm and timber lands surrounding Lake Taupo. The Queen of Waikato Te Atairangikaahu supported by Kahui-Ariki of the ancient King Movement of last century significance was present with her husband Mr Paki of Huntly. To it was also invited the District Officer of Maori and Island Affairs Department, Rotorua, Mr J. H. W. Barber and other officers of his Department. The Tuhourangis of Whakarewarewa and the Pikiaos of Mourea and Rotoiti were also among the distinguished guests. A former headmaster of the Mokai School with his family, Mr J. Clark, was there as was Mrs Iriaka Ratana, M.P., and many Pakeha friends.

Father Haring was present to conduct the services at the two separate grave yards where the two chieftains had been interred. Nguha Huirama was 81 years old when he died in 1945, and in his youth he was a noted boxer and sportsman. The Osbornes are his descendants and many were present to act as hosts for the large crowd present. Turau te Tomo was buried at Rangiwharangi some distance from the Pakaketaiari marae where the celebrations were held. Turau was 70 years old and died in 1965. Near to this cemetery was the old Meeting House ‘Wairangi’, named after a distinguished warrior of the local tribesmen. It was Wairangi who stormed and conquered the pa of Aea in the Matamata County on the Waihou river about two hundred years ago. Both these men trace their lineage to the great Arawa and Tainui leaders of the past, and Wairangi is still remembered today by the war dance which he composed with his three brothers Upokoiti, Tamate Hura and Pipito on the occasion of the routing of te Aea pa in the Waikato countryside. This haka — ‘A ko te Aeia o rangi ko te aei orangi ee’ — is the piece de resistance of any Tuwharetoa haka festival, and only they can do justice to this classic war dance.

Pakaketaiari is a famous marae. On it is a memorial to mark the brave lady who defied the British General in the Battle of Orakau about 1864, by standing on the besieged pa's ramparts to shout her defiant answer to his call for the women to surrender — ‘If our men die we shall die toowe will fight forever and ever’. She was named Ahumai Paerata and her grandson te Hoariri Paerata was present as host during these celebrations, and was the chief speaker.

Another memorial for men of the village who died or were killed in World War II stands at the entrance. One lad I recall. Cpl A. Tohara, was killed by a shell splinter beside me at Minquar Quaim in 1942. We buried him there in the desert.

Turau te Tomo. son of Taite te Tomo. a Member of the House of Representatives

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for Western Maori Electorate in the time of Sir Maui Pomare and Sir Apirana Ngata, was a great leader of the local people. Mr Barber paid him an eloquent eulogy as the climax of the ceremonies finally centred around a new flag pole erected beside the Meeting House where Turau te Tomo was brought up as a child. Mr Barber fittingly presented a New Zealand Ensign flag to the local present-day leader Mr W. H. Paerata, and this was struck on the new flag pole as the Maoris burst into the classic patere ‘Poiatu taku Poi’ in honour of the Maori Queen, and the National Anthem was sung to mark Maori allegiance to the Crown.

This day will long be remembered, as it was marked by the happy and spontaneous programme which marked the proceedings, commencing with the first speech of welcome by Hema Maniapoto, a famous All Black for the Maoris, with two sons so well known locally and nationally. The services were memorable for the sacred incantations recited by the Waikato elders who led their queen to remove the priceless feathered cloaks off each tombstone in turn. Tears flowed freely as the late Turau te Tomo's widow, Marata te Tomo, wept unashamedly for her late husband. The area was hushed save for the bleating of new born lambs, as all these lands, once bush and scrub, have been developed successfully by Maori Affairs.

One could see the glow of pride among the many young Maori women serving food in the dining room and the young men in the cookhouse with their hangi and the aroma of roast pork and eels, etc. These people had gathered, scattered as they are by the need to seek employment in other places, and the reunion was memorable. They were happy to sleep again in the spacious Pakaetaiari with its ancient carvings standing in splendid but glorious isolation looking out on over 20,000 acres of rich farmlands now transformed by an imaginative and practical policy initiated by the elders and supported by the State. It was a pleasure to meet an old lady who told me that this house had been carved by Motu Heta, her tupuna, and it was with a heart full of thanks that on this day one could still hear the traditional laments and ballads — the pateres which are heard nowhere else in the world.

It was a memorable day — Maori and European mingled and ate together. The slow process of acculturation received a hearty fillip this day and the future must bring nothing but good. Handsome young high school boys and girls sang songs dressed in their maroon and coloured blazers as the combined groups came from Taupo nui-a-tia and Putaruru Colleges.

Farewell songs were sung, firstly by the Waikatos, and then the Tuhourangis not

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Tangata whenua complement one of the speeches outside the meeting house at Mokai

Unveilings at Mokai

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to be out-done, also sang their classic ‘Te Kiri o te Tau’. Orator and singer were Mr Rangihiroa Stanley and Mr Hirone Wikiriwhi.

Comedy had its part in the fun that followed after lunch and Mr Toka of the Queen's party entertained with a harmonium, and a ballet dance was given by Louisa, a local lady of great charm from Whaka.

These gatherings are surely bringing our peoples closer together until New Zealand will become a united land with no Maoris or Pakehas, but all of us alike, after Sir James Carroll's famous saying of ‘Tatou Tatou’ meaning, ‘we are all one people together’ or Governor Hobson's ‘He iwi kotahi tatou’.

Won Design Contest

A Maori boy stole a march on the girls at Ruapehu College, Ohakune. He is Taniwha Blackburn, whose design for a new school uniform for the girls at the college, won first prize in a competition organised by the college Board of Governors.

The college will not decide on a new uniform before the start of 1971 and even then the winning design may not necessarily be the one chosen, but it was considered the outstanding one of the competition.

A form 5A pupil, Taniwha called his design ‘Sammy’. He started with an A-line dress because ‘it suits all sized and shaped girls, it is fairly simple for the girls to make themselves, it allows for physical development and it is fashionable.’

The girls have not commented on the design.