Thursday, February 3, 2011
A Ngati Apa Marae - Turakino
It was a grey day and pouring with rain when I spied this sign at Turakina, on State Highway 1, south of Whanganui. I lived in Whanganui for two years (1985-87) and never once ventured down here. So on this grey May day last year, 25 years later, I decided to fix that once and for all.
As I wound down the narrow country road covered in mud and cow-poo and bordered by high maize fields, I felt like I was venturing into some lost frontier. And then, one last corner and I came upon this little rough-cast church - Te Mangungu, on the edge of a huge maize field and skirted by a small grave yard and electric fences. I wasn't about to brave electric fences in pouring rain - in any conditions actually - so I took these snaps from my car window. I sat there for some time, deep in thought. It was one of those times when the landscape, the 'dwellings,' the mood of the place toyed with my imagination. It felt forgotten and yet somehow 'alive' with history.
It wasn't until several months later, when I was home again, that I discovered that this little marae across the road from the church - tucked behind giant harakeke (flax) and maize - is in fact, the historic Te Horotaraipi of Ngati Apa meeting house, which dates back to the late 19th century. These days it's managed and maintained by several families of the Ngati Apa hapu, Nga Ariki.