Wednesday, January 12, 2011
A Ngai Te Rangi Marae
Whenever I travel around New Zealand - usually once a year - I make a point of turning down side roads to explore parts of the country I've not seen before. I love those diversions off the beaten track and sometimes they turn up real photographic gems. That was the case when I was driving from Tauranga to Rotorua a few months ago. I saw the sign for Tahuwhakatiki (Romai) Marae and instantly decided on a quick side trip.
The marae itself - established in 1911 by Eruera Tamapahore Te Tahou - was located just a few dozen metres down the road with a magnificent lookout across the bay, with The Mount - Mauao - in the distance (see below).
It was a sunny morning and I drove by the little Maori community. A man building a fire, helped by a team of giggling kids, waved out and I noticed a carving workshop next to his house and a little urupa (cemetery) across the valley. The first thing that struck me about the marae itself, were the huge and beautiful carvings that adorned it. The whare tipuna - Rongomainohorangi - also featured intricately carved amo and lovely kowhaiwhai patterns on the heke (above).
Ngai Te Rangi is the largest of the three main iwi of Tauranga Moana: Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga. It is essentialy a collective of hapu joined through common descent from the primary ancestors, Te Rangihouhiri and Tamapahore. The iwi has eleven marae in the Tauranga District and hapu include Nga Potiki, Te Whanau a Tauwhao, Ngati Kuku, Nga Tukairangi, Ngati Tapu, Ngai Tamawharuia, Ngati He, Ngati Tauaiti and Ngai Tuwhiwhia.