Monday, November 15, 2010

Te Pouwairua a Tuhourangi

In former times during the Tangihanga (funeral) for a chief, his waka (canoe) would be placed on its end, standing upright and semi-buried in the ground. This would signify the homage and gratitude rendered to the great man, the warrior, the great chief. To the already carved waka, the addition of more carved or painted designs - kowhaiwhai - would show tribal connection. In this Pouwairua, standing tall above Lake Tarawera, the Te Arawa people of Rotorua honour and respect their great leader, Tuhourangi, who once occupied the surrounding lands with his people.
In 1886, Mount Tarawera erupted fiercely - that's it in the rear right of the photograph above - flat-topped now. In the ensuring devastation that followed, the Maori village of Te Wairoa, home to the Tuhourangi people, was completely buried in volcanic ash.

The Tuhourangi owned the famous Pink & White Terraces - Otukapuarangi and Te Tarata -which were a major tourist attraction in the late 1880s. Members of the tribe acted as guides for people wanting to explore the terraces. Along with the loss of Te Wairoa, the terraces and several surrounding villages, the Tuhourangi also lost all their cultivated land that had provided social, cultural and economic sustenance for the hapu for generations.

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