Dedication and Anniversary
In March 1970 a service was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pepara Church at Koroniti Pa, Whanganui River, and to dedicate a memorial to Sister Elsie Smith, a missionary nurse of the Anglican church, who had lived at Koroniti for 33 years.
Sister Elsie, as she was always known, was a very frail-looking Englishwoman, who came to New Zealand in the late 1920s and was stationed at Abbotsford, Waipapa. Later she was for a short time at Marton, before being appointed in 1930 to the
Wainui-a-rua Maori Pastorate with headquarters at Koroniti in a picturesque cottage adjacent to the Repara Church. In those days transport was by river steamer, but Sister Elsie was known to walk 15 miles by track to Parikino visiting Maori and settlers' homes and administering to their needs. Also she would walk to the various Pa north of Koroniti and on to Pipiriki. She gave her service in spiritual, nursing and financial aid particularly during the depression years.
Sister Elsie always took service in the church regularly when no priest was in attendance and also played the organ. If only children were present she would afterwards take them all to the lawn in front of her cottage and give them lunch. Her hospitality was well known to many visitors and tourists after the road was put through as everybody was made welcome to her home. One of the proud moments of her life was when she would take her band of Maori women of the Mothers' Union to visit other Unions and districts. Their banner made of woven flax linen was much admired and still remains in the Pepara Church. Many of her pupils are now grown up.
Living amongst all the Ngati Pamoana all those years, she was eventually admitted as a member of the tribe, and for her work amongst the Maori people she received the M.B.E. in the June Birthday Honours of 1955.
She returned to England to live with her sister in 1963, and died there in May 1968, aged 87. After the celebration of Memorial Services held at St Paul's Church. Putiki and the Pepara Church at Koroniti, members of Ngati Pamoana Tribe and various other friends decided that a Memorial should be erected to Sister Elsie at Koroniti. The organising was left to a Committee of Maori and Pakeha. Preparations were made by having the Pepara Church repainted and repaired, and the Waiherehere Wharepuni and other buildings painted. The carvings from the old Poutama Meeting House which was dismantled at Raratia, were placed in the Pepara Church for safe keeping. A memorial cairn built of stones from the Whanganui River, with a stainless steel plaque inserted, was built by Messrs Panatahi Metekingi and Eric Fisher.
The Ngati Pamoana people had assembled in the Pa on the day before the celebrations, as rain developed in the River Valley, the first after the prolonged drought. However, as the sun rose the mist lifted and a buzz of excitement prevailed as cars arrived with visitors for the occasion. At 10 a.m. the Rev. Allan Broughton, then Victar of the Wainui-a-rua Maori Pastorate arrived, accompanied by the Bishop of Wellington, Rt. Rev. H. Baines, and the Rt. Rev. Manu Bennett, Bishop of Aotearoa. On entering the marae the Rt. Rev. Manu Bennett was challenged with a wero by Kingi Kingi of Maxwell and then by a haka by members of the Ngati Pamoana. A speech of welcome was then given by Rangi Pokiha, elder of the Pa.
At 11 a.m. the bell tolled for the service. The church was full, and many sat outside the church in the brilliant sunshine. The service was conducted by the Rev. Allan Broughton assisted by other visiting clergy. The Bishop of Aotearoa preached the sermon, and the two bishops then took the Communion. After Communion all gathered in front of the Memorial Cairn which was draped with the Pamoana Tribal Flag. Here a short service of dedication was held, and the flag was removed bv Mrs Pepe Metekingi, assisted by Messrs Rangi Pokiha and Panatahi Metekingi. The Rt. Rev. Manu Bennett then pronounced the dedication of the memorial.
Tributes were then paid to the work of Sister Elsie Smith. Over 300 visitors attended, including local dignitaries and members of parliament. After a hangi dinner they were entertained with pois and action songs. Among the visitors was the Roman Catholic Maori Missioner, the Rev. Father Caulfield, and two Sisters from the Hiruharama Mission. Others came from all parts of the North and South Islands, and overseas from New York and California, and all recognised the great contribution made by that frail-looking but stouthearted mother to the children of Ngati Pamoana and Wainui-a-rua.
So Sister Elsie Smith joins a band of women renowned for their spiritual and healing work on the Whanganui River.
Revised Maori Dictionary
Mr Bill Parker is pictured commenting on the new Maori dictionary during a Sunday evening news broadcast. The Government Printer has now issued the seventh edition of William's Dictionary of the Maori Language, and it appears at a time when there is a great enthusiasm for the learning of Maori. The sixth edition has been out of print since 1965.
A revision rather than the reprint originally planned, the undertaking was arranged by the Department of Education's Advisory Committee on the Teaching of the Maori Language, which set up a Maori Language Dictionary Subcommittee with Professor Bruce Biggs as convener and Mesdames E. B. Ranapia and M. Penfold as members. Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones was invited to join this subcommittee and became its chairman.
Mr W. T. Ngata, a member of the subcommittee whose father, the late Sir Apirana Ngata, was chairman of an earlier revision committee, said that with each revision the demand for the dictionary had become greater. ‘We were fortunate,’ said Mr Ngata, ‘in having had on the subcommittee people like Dr Jones and Bruce Biggs, in particular, who gave their services over many, many months to bring this work up-to-date, especially the references. I believe this will prove to be a really good edition.’
Mr Parker said that the publication satisfied a need for the hundreds of students of the Maori language for a first-rate dictionary, and said that the use of the macron to indicate vowel length was necessary for students whose ears were not attuned to the language.
H.W. WILLIAMS M.A.
Available now from your local
AUCKLAND HAMILTON WELLINGTON CHRISTCHURCH DUNEDIN