A taonga returns

Allan Painter came to Arowhenua Marae recently, to return a taonga whānau. The taonga, a mat was made by Sarah Maude Painter at the behest of Tāua Paki Manning, for the inaugural meeting of the Arowhenua Māori Women’s Institute on, or about, 20 July 1937.

It was featured in a photo taken at that time, in front of Mrs Riku and Tokeke Rehu. Sarah Maude lived on what is now known as Station Road and had a good relationship with the people of the pā. Allan was baptised in the church and Tāua Paki was his godmother.

Allan attended school from 1939 to 1941 with teachers, the Bremner sisters, known as little teacher and big teacher. Sadly the Painter whānau moved away from the district and lost contact with the pā but Allan’s mother treasured the mat and it has always had a place on the wall. It was passed to Allan for safekeeping on her passing in 1954, in the hope he would one day return it to its rightful place.

Allan and his wife Celeta have gifted the mat back to Arowhenua Marae, where it rightly belongs to honor the ladies who formed the original Arowhenua Māori Women’s Institute.

Allan and his wife Celeta.

Allan and his wife Celeta.

Inspired by Koroneihana

As a proud Arowhenua descendant of Te Anau, it was momentous to have the opportunity  to be part of the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu contingent to attend the eighth koroneihana of Kīngi Tuheitia.

As we descended onto Tūrangawaewae Marae the wairua and taki was felt from all the kuia calling us on. It was a beautiful experience. The calibre of speakers/reo influence and priorities from all iwi came together to acknowledge the King, to remember the Kotahitanga movement and to embrace the Mana Motuhake alignment. Inspirational reo, mōteatea, whakapapa and humour coming from all areas of the paepae.

Kukupa Tirikatene endorsed our presence with such humility and mana. And it was good to meet the Ngāi Tahu ki Waikato taurahere group who came and supported us.

We had the opportunity to observe Waikato-Tainui challenge Prime Minister John Key to return the confiscated lands that were wrongfully taken from them.   It was truly heart breaking hearing their story about the Waikato Land Wars and the impact it has had on the people. But to strengthen and build the intensity of this challenge Tukuroirangi Morgan, advisor to Kīngi Tuheitia organised 200 rangatahi to perform the most exhilarating  haka taua, to the Prime Minister.

My emotions of the wairua and ihi flowed,  tears appeared, as these rangatahi were descendants of those innocent whānau who lost their lives.  Waikato-Tainui presented this account of inhumanity to the Prime Minister with mana and pride, with a clear and succinct plea to return the lands. A petition with 10,000 signatures was placed in the hands of John Key to endorse this wero.

We also had the opportunity to attend the Tūhoe Crown apology in Tāneatua. This was amazing. We were welcomed by 300 Tūhoe descendants with an amazing haka pōwhiri and wero. The formal apology to the Tūhoe people was an auspicious occasion to be a part of.

With our work colleague, Donna Flavell (nō Waikato ia), we were spoilt and she showed us around Tūrangawaewae Marae. I thank her for looking after Brett Lee and I. Ngā mihi Donna, the capacity, operations and manpower of the marae at Tūrangawaewae was overwhelming. He tino flash te kāuta, preparations downstairs, a lift to bring the kai up and kitchen resources that cook up to 1200 whānau in one setting.

Every whānau member had their own job and responsibilities for the week, which is generational and has been this way for decades. What truly touched me was there is no dollar value and it’s all about the mana of their marae. What an amazing concept. I will be inheriting this whakaaro. Nā Vania Pirini.

Part of the Ngāi Tahu contingent at Koroneihana.

Part of the Ngāi Tahu contingent at Koroneihana.