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The History of the Site of the Wai-hirere Marae

The History of the Site of the Wai-hirere Marae

Te Wai-hirere is the original name of the site where the Takitimu Carved Meeting House now stands. It was not an ancient pa, nor a permanent settlement. Situated with flat land all around, and of easy access, the war lords of those days considered it an unsuitable place to withstand the attacks of the enemy in troublesome days. It was not until the establishment of Christianity in the Wairoa district that the chief Te Apatu, together with his people settled on the place and built houses for themselves, as well as a Whare-wananga, which was named Hirewa-nui and built on the place which is now set aside as a cemetery reserve. Some time later, about the middle of the eighteenth century, the son of Te Apatu, named Paora Te Apatu, conceived the idea of erecting a whare-runanga (Large Meeting House), which he intended to name on its completion, with an appropriate name known only to himself. However, as the building was nearing its completion, a tohunga, by the name of Pakitea, paid a visit to Paora Te Apatu and expressed his mission to him by begging and pleading that he should not name the house with any other name but Hikurangi. This is the name of that big and historical mountain near the East Cape, where according to old Maori legend, Maui and his canoe Tama-Rereti was grounded on top of the mountain while he was struggling and striving to haul up his wonder fish, the North Island, from the depths of the sea.

The tohunga, Pakitea, declared that it was revealed to him in the form of a dream that if the building was named after the historical mountain it would not only be honoured and patronized by the local people, but also by the people of that renowned mountain, Hikurangi. True to the prophecy, when the Hauhaus became troublesome, Major Ropata Wahawaha, together with hundreds of warriors from the Ngati-Porou tribe and the children of the famous mountain Hikurangi, came to protect the Wairoa page 198people, and made the house Hikurangi their headquarters, and their stay lasted throughout the Hauhau trouble.