Kei aku rau rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. On 3-6 June Puketeraki held its third annual taiaha wānanga. We had an awesome turnout with whānau from Milton, Wānaka, Ōāmaru, Ōtepoti and our local whānau. There are some photos and videos on the Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka Facebook page.

It was a blessing to have Tuari Dawson here to lead out on the wānanga. Tuari had us up every morning at 5.30am cleaning, exercising and training on the beach. Tuari is a great mentor and role model for these boys. We look forward to having him back next year. Ngā mihi nui ki ngā kaiāwhina, ki ngā ringawera, ki ngā whānau, tae noa atu rā ki a koe e te toa matarau Tuari. E kore e oti noa ngā mihi ki a koutou katoa.
Nā, Waiariki Parata-Taiapa.

Graeme Pepper’s story
My name is Graeme Pepper and I am 66 years old. My great-grandfather was Te Whao Rangitupoki of Ngāti Mutunga who was a follower of Te Whiti and was arrested for ploughing fields at Urenui. He was trialled, sentenced and transported to Dunedin. After his release he stayed and married Katarina Turora, daughter of Wi Turora and granddaughter of Rawiri Kurukuru. My grandmother, Turama Te Whao, was born and raised in Puketeraki. She married Joe Hampton and they resided in the Haka Valley where he was a shearer and rabbiter.

Sadly, Turama passed away in 1929 at the age of 27 after giving birth to her fifth child, my mother, who went to live with her Irish grandparents. After that she had no further contact with her Māori side of the family. I spent my school years in Dunedin and was not aware that Puketeraki existed until I was in my mid-thirties and went out to the marae to attend a couple of Riki Parata’s birthday parties with Wayne Parata.

Since that time I had no further contact with the marae except for some land meetings and a couple of the whakapapa wānanga. As far back as I can remember I have always felt something was missing in my life and I was always seeking a place to call home. During my working days I moved from place-to-place and job-to-job and always felt unfulfilled, even when I went to Puketeraki I never had a feeling of belonging.

Last weekend I attended the taiaha wānanga with one of my tama and four mokopuna. What an amazing weekend, to be acknowledged by others attending as whānau, to train, run and play with the boys was something special. I took my boys over to the old house site and we shared the marvellous view and on the Sunday we all went up to the urupā. When I looked out over the coast I said to my boys what an amazing view it was. One of the mokopuna said, “I could live here.” That was when I realised I could stop looking, because I am home.

Then to top it all off, we were acknowledged later in the day with a taiaha for our family. It was amazing and something we will treasure as a family heirloom forever. A heartfelt thanks to all of those involved in the organising and running of the wānanga and a special thanks to Tuari, Rongomai, Waiariki and Jake.

taiaha 4

taiaha 1

taiaha 2

taiaha 3

Some shots from the Taiaha Wānanga held at Puketeraki Marae.