Thursday, August 5, 2010

Exploring the Horowhenua

Back in May, when I was edging my way north from Wellington, I was determined to stop at least one of the sign-posted marae. I had been unable to last year because of the large traffic volumes and my own time constraints. So this time, when I saw the sign pointing to Kikopiri Marae at the little Horowhenua settlement of Ohau, I turned off the highway and followed a narrow country road for a few kilometres.

It was a drizzly but sunny day and the short road leading to the marae on a small hill was muddy so I didn't even get out of the car. But I was taken with the prettiness of the scene - the little old marae peeping out from behind giant harakeke (flax) and what looked to be small kauri or totara trees. I haven't been able to find out a lot about the marae but it does appear to be an important centre for Ngati Kikopiri people and I was able to trace some lovely old photographs in Alexander Turnbull Library files, showing the marae between 1895-1906 - recognisable by the building's distinctive carved amo (the upright carvings on the front gable). According to my other readings, I think there may be a connection to Ngati Raukawa - some of whom migrated to Horowhenua in the early 1820s, to this area....though I can't be sure of that and am open to reader suggestions.

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