Monday, November 9, 2009

One Bay, One Marae, Many Waka

It was a sunny, early afternoon in May when I swung sharply off State Highway 35 near the Omaio Store on East Cape. I’d spied a big group of waka pulled up onto the grassy hillocks just above the sand and I needed to investigate. (I wrote a blog about those waka back in May and you can read it if you enter Omaio into the blog search box above left). This narrow road – the Old Coast Road – continues on to the Hoani Waititi Reserve but I never got that far because in addition to the waka, there were the wonderful carvings on the marae directly across the road from the beach.

This marae – Omaio Marae – is home to the Te Whanau-a-Apanui hapu, The Whanau-a-Nuku; and the wharenui (meeting house) is named Rongomai-huatahi. The Te Whanau-a-Apanui iwi (tribe)– named after the 17th century ancestor – Apanui Ringamutu – has a large coastal territory that runs from Te Taumutu-o-Apanui, between Torere and Hawai, to Potaka at the top of East Cape. Their 13 hapu (sub-tribes) have established bases (mostly) close to the coast, where marine resources have traditionally been bountiful.

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