Gavin's on-the-road diary - June 2014 

Kia ora koutou

Me pēhea tōku mihi ki ngā ringa raupā puta noa i te motu. Mā te mahi tahi, ka tae tātou katoa ki te taumata!

We had a flying start to 2014. I was in Wellington with Manager Iwi Development, Mark Ormsby, and we had an intensive week of planning for the financial year ahead and catching time with the rest of the team.

From early this year we have had a surge of enquiries from iwi countrywide. The majority of the iwi contacting us have been made aware of National Services Te Paerangi’s assistance through our workshop programme. It gives us satisfaction to know that the word is getting out there. Iwi are also thinking and planning strategically and it’s a positive sign for us when culture and taonga are included in that strategic thinking. We are only too happy to be part of that planning process.

Digital photography and paper conservation workshop for iwi – March 2014
Ko Tarakeha te maunga
Ko Moetangi te awa
Ko Te Tao Maui te hapu
Ko Te Rarawa te iwi

The karanga (call of welcome) from hapū (sub-tribe) Te Tao Maui of Te Rarawa was answered by Vicki-Anne Heikell of the Alexander Turnbull Library as we were welcomed into the whare Tū Moana for a digital photography and paper conservation workshop at Matihetihe marae at Mitimiti in the Far North. The workshop was led by Te Papa photographer Michael Hall and Vicki-Anne Heikell of the National Preservation Office, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Mitimiti really turned on the sunshine while we were there for the workshop. While travelling from the ferry at Kohukohu I thought about the iwi in this wider area and how they are right up there in the front line of caring for their taonga and also their cultural developments.

Dropping down past Motutī and heading out to the coast through Pangaru I thought about Catholic Father Pā Henare Tate and his cultural developments at his marae at Motutī and his church, Hata Maria, where the remains of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier – the first Catholic Bishop of New Zealand ­­– are interred beneath the church altar.

The story of the Bishop is riveting stuff. He had close ties with Māori in the Hokianga and beyond, and is acknowledged as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. He was born in Lyon, France in 1802 and spent 30 years in New Zealand. In 1838, the first mass was celebrated at Tōtara Point in this region.

In 2001, a delegation of pilgrims (Pā Tate included) travelled to France to accompany Bishop Pompallier’s remains back to New Zealand. I have been to the church for karakia (prayers) on another trip and it was quite an emotional time. Pā Henare Tate can be rightfully proud of the church’s work, as international Catholic pilgrims are visiting the church and surrounding areas.

Our workshops are part of a lead-up for the centenary celebrations for Hato Hemi (Saint James) Church at the Matihetihe marae, which will be taking place in 2016. Michael Hall and Vicki-Anne Heikell were there to demonstrate and discuss digitising photographs and correct methods of archiving and storage for the whānau’s collection of photographs and the files of marae and church, in preparation for the upcoming celebrations.

It was interesting viewing some of the old photos that the whānau bought along to be shared. Our photography expert Michael Hall was able to zoom in close on some of the photos and in one case, bring people into focus who the owner didn’t realise were in the picture. One thing we learnt was that a generation or two ago, taking a photo wasn’t just the ‘click and move on’ scenario it is now. As paper conservator Vicki-Anne Heikell says, ‘People got prepared for the occasion. They spent some time on the event. They dressed up to get their photo taken, they dressed in their best clothes, dressed their hair and wore their family taonga’. It was an occasion that was taken seriously.

Day Two of the workshop saw more whānau attend and I was happy to see Pā Henare Tate also attend to spend the time with us. It was a busy day’s work, interspersed with history, stories, whakapapa, and timelines to many marae and church events from Pā Henare Tate and the kaumātua present. Listening to the stories gave life to the photos and archives presented and we heard stories of long ago battles, whānau, fun, friendship, and a hardworking lifestyle.

Ralph Hotere – Maunga Hione Mount Zion
The Mt Zion (Mt Hione) cemetery at Mitimiti is the final resting place of Hone Papita Raukura, ‘Ralph Hotere’. Ralph was born at Mitimiti and achieved much in his lifetime, including a 2003 Icon award and appointment to the Order of New Zealand in 2012. Our small team climbed Mount Zion to visit Ralph. To get up to him you have to follow the white fence rail up the side of Mount Zion to the cemetery – I joked to the team that we were on pilgrimage to Ralph.

I had some good laughs with Uncle Joe Adams that morning. He went to school with Ralph and said to me, ‘Who would have thought that Ralph would have turned out to be that famous?’. He also shared other stories of Ralph from back in the day and I could see how the magic of Mitimiti could add that special something in a person’s life.

Another point the whānau made was that Ralph’s tūpāpaku (body) was flown home in an Air Force helicopter that hovered over Tarakeha maunga and the settlement before landing. His tūpāpaku was then transported the short distance to the marae on a Hummer. What a way to come home, really cool!

I’ve been to many special places in my time with National Services Te Paerangi. Two which stand out are Oputae, the Ralph Hotere sculpture park on top of the hill overlooking Port Chalmers, and Gore – viewing the Hone Tuwhare Icon medal and tokotoko (walking stick). For me, this visit to Ralph’s final resting place rates alongside them.

Michael, Vicki-Anne and I quietly reflected on our surroundings:
Tarakeha the mountain
Tapokopoko the Tasman Sea
Moetangi the river
Hato Hemi the Catholic Church

I also thought of Ralph’s great friend Hone Tuwhare and how between them they provided inspiration and motivation for people everywhere. It was a nice way to finish the day and it gave reward to our mahi at Mitimiti.

SS Ventor shipwreck 1902
While at the workshop, we learnt from the home whānau that there was a shipwreck off the Mitimiti beach in 1902. The SS Ventor was transporting many coffins of Chinese miners who had died in the goldfields, back to China to be buried in their homelands. The ship was holed on her way north and sunk offshore. The local iwi found many coffins and bodies on the beach and buried some there. Some were also taken up to Mount Zion and buried next to the whānau plots.

In 2009, after a journey of discovery, the Chinese families came together at Mitimiti to meet the local whānau for the first time. I heard how it was an emotional gathering, where two cultures met and joined together to remember the events of the past. Karen Tahana told us that the day was a good way for the two communities to seek closure.

There has been a Chinese monument erected on Maunga Hione to commemorate this sad event, and by all accounts, 112 years later, the values and traditions of both cultures are in balance. This is a good example of the type of amazing story that we come across while we are out and about on work duties. It really makes you think about history, how it links to today and what value we place on our traditions, customs, and beliefs.

I would like to sincerely thank Karen Tahana who acted as our main organiser for the hapū Te Tao Maui. She certainly put in the hard yards to get the workshop organised. Thanks also to Uncle Joe Adams who shared his early life stories with us, the kaumātua who were the backbone of the workshop, and Father Henare Tate who added his knowledge and mana along with Sister Magda who accompanied him for the day.

Gavin Reedy, Joe Adams, Michael Hall and Vicki-Anne Heikell

Thanks for reading my diary and keeping up with what I’m up to while out and about. It’s certainly been an interesting start to the year and I’d like to thank all the people that I’ve come across and worked with over the past several months.


Images courtesy of Michael Hall, Te Papa.