Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Place of Celebration

Back in May, when I was travelling up the North Island, I saw a monument on the side of the road (below), just south of Otorohanga in the South Waikato/Waitomo area. I spun around and pulled into the side parking area to see what it was all about.

That's when I saw the yellow road sign marking Rereamanu Marae.
And looking to my left, I saw it - down a narrow, unsealed road, far below, huddled in a valley, surrounded by those distinctive rolling green, south Waikato hills - a perfect, private setting tucked away from the mad rush of the main highway.

It was here - at Rereamanu Marae, on February 5, 2009, that Ngati Maniapoto hosted tribes from all over New Zealand - and Te Arikinui, King Tuheitia, to mark and celebrate 150 years of the Kingitanga Movement. The 3-day event was hosted here at Rereamanu because it is the closest site to where Chief Potatau Te Wherowhero was confirmed as Maniapoto's choice to become the first Maori King. Potatau was subsequently crowned the first Maori King in Ngaruawahia in April, 1858. The memorial above marks the site of the first meeting of those chiefly discussions and chronicles the history.
As I stood on the side of the highway reading this history, I was struck once again by the thought that we sail by so much in life - everyday markers and places - without ever knowing what has gone before us. I for one, have driven past this memorial an uncountable number of times previously without knowing its significance. I left, glad I had stopped and without wanting to sound corny, I somehow felt a little richer for the knowledge and the landscapes - the memorial and marae huddled down in the valley - I had seen in fifteen short minutes.

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