Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Muriwhenua Marae

I was on my way to Karikari Peninsular in the Far North of the North Island when I veered off State Highway One and went down a side road, taking my lead from a sign that pointed the way to Parapara Marae. Like so many of these random diversions that I took on my North island trip, it turned out to be much further than I expected.
I followed the road down into a pretty, quiet valley, passing an occasional farmer, until I came to a sign pointing into Parapara Road. Not far down that gravel road, I found Parapara Marae – an unassuming cluster of little buildings with a large green lawn in front. The place was deserted. Cicadas chirped, kingfishers swooped across the lawn and not a single curtain rustled in the old houses nearby.

I loved the old church, the bell and the weathered corrugated iron structures. A lush pa harakeke and wharenui (meeting house) sat to one side. The wharenui – Te Manawa of Ngati Tara – indicating that the marae is home to the Ngati Kahu hapu, Ngati Tara, one of the northern Muriwhenua tribes. Muriwhenua means ‘this end of the land’ and is the collective name given to 6 northern tribes: Ngati Kuri, Ngai Takoto, Te Patu, Ngati Kahu, Te Aupouri and Te Rarawa.

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