Two Tuahiwi women have been honoured with a community service award from the Waimakariri District Council.

Hoana Burgman and Tokomaru Hammond have between them, served both the community and Tuahiwi Marae for 95 years.

They have been instrumental in hosting guests at the marae, coordinating, budgeting, planning meals, organising and socialising with guests. Many hui have been held at the marae, the most notable being those associated with the Ngāi Tahu Claim.

Before the Settlement the marae had no income, so fundraising was also a part of their job. Toko Hammond retired from hosting and catering for manuhiri at Tuahiwi Marae after 55 years. That was when the old hall was pulled down to make way for the new wharenui, Maahunui Tuarua.

During her time, she hosted dignitaries from all over New Zealand – ministers, members of parliament, schools, cultural wānanga, and, at the same time, manuhiri from other hapū and iwi.  Her mother and aunt taught her the importance of passing knowledge and skills on to the next generation and this has always been an important part of her role. This explains the respect that her nieces and nephews have for her.

Hoana Burgman has been a member of Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga executive for about 30 years and is currently the secretary. She has hosted manuhiri at the marae for around 40 years and also performed a similar role prior to the earthquakes at the Ngāi Tahu offices in Christchurch for around 12 years. Together the two women have worked tirelessly to get the food cooked and served for Ngāi Tūāhuriri at the many significant events for the tribe and the iwi traditions.

Toko, who has now retired, says it was while working in the kitchen that they found out what was really happening in the community.

Hoana and Toko say that lifetime friendships were made working together in the kitchen and they miss the other women terribly. They are the only two still living from those early kitchen days. They reminisce fondly about some of the very large tangi, the biggest back then being Jim Manahi’s, which was over 20 years ago. With 5000 manuhiri to feed, marquees were erected. Unfortunately, pouring rain made going between the tents serving food a hazardous and unpleasant job.

“The men mostly worked out in the freezing works, so they got us some gumboots. There we were, all kitted out with white gumboots, serving the food.

“It rained so much they had to put down shingle and then planking so we could get to and from the tents. The mud was terrible,” says Hoana.

Because of the large number of visitors, there was not enough room for everybody to sleep inside, so caravans had to be brought to the site.

In those days before the Ngāi Tahu Settlement, there was more dependence on individual donations of food. Often steer would be brought in and sometimes pigs and a few sheep, and the men, who were skilled freezing workers, would turn the animals into a feast for everyone.

Another memorable event was the Commonwealth Games that Tasman Pitama organised, where 3000 people were fed. They enjoyed meeting the athletes from all over the world and providing a meal for them, which few of them had experienced before.

Over the years, they have hosted Governor Generals, Prime Ministers and other politicians, such as Norman Kirk and more recently Stephen Joyce. Winston Peters left a tasty impression on the ladies. Hoana and Toko say Winston caused a stir after he charmed the women and they all said they would vote for him.

Kath Tizard as Governor-General is remembered affectionately. The pair says she opened Tuahiwi School and the marae and she made herself at home, sitting with the children and chatting to everyone. They add that she was a lovely women and she fitted right in.

Both agreed that their roles caring for manuhiri were a positive thing that has been appreciated by guests.  Hoana still has an active role at the marae and is on the committee that developed the new wharenui, Maahunui Tuarua – an achievement that they are all proud of. As the president of the Tuahiwi branch of the Māori Women’s Welfare League for 17 years, an important, nationally recognised organisation that supports families and mothers in their time of need. Hoana helped get the branch going again after it had lacked vitality for around 50 years.

Hoana and Toko are proud of the recognition that they have received from the community for their longstanding involvement in the day-to-day running of Tuahiwi Marae.

From left, Hoana Burgman and Tokomaru Hammond with their awards. Photo courtesy of The Kaiapoi Advocate.

From left, Hoana Burgman and Tokomaru Hammond with their awards. Photo courtesy of The Kaiapoi Advocate.