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Chapter Twenty-Two

page 197

Chapter Twenty-Two

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.

The Name Takitimu.

The name Takitimu is not of recent origin, but dates back to the first building erected by the late chief Pitiera Kopu at his pa called Te Hatepe, on the side of the Wairoa River opposite the Huramua Station, from which its present name is derived. The tiki or ornamental figure which adorned the outside barge boards was carved from an ancient water log said to have been one of the skids of the Takitimu canoe which fell loose into the Wairoa River, at the mouth of the Makeakea stream (nearly opposite Mr. Henry Fox's homestead on the Wairoa River) during this famous canoe's visit to Wairoa. On account of this outstanding feature, the building was regarded as extremely tapu or sacred and no food of any description was allowed to be eaten in it, neither was any form of amusement of a social nature permitted to be conducted in the building.

Years later, after the death of the late Pitiera Kopu in the year 1867, the people desiring to extend an invitation to Te Kooti Rikirangi, and not having a suitable building close at hand to accommodate such a notable person, the Takitimu meeting house was dismantled and re-erected at the Wai-hirere pa, alongside the building Hikurangi. About the year 1890, Te Kooti Rikirangi arrived in Wairoa and was the first person to occupy the house. On his departure he made the following prophetical utterance: "Ko koe e Te Wai-hirere ka pokia e te kohu a he wa ano tona ka puea." (You Te Wai-hirere shall become befogged, but in time you will again emerge.) As the years passed the building started to decay, and the powers of tohungaism ceased to the extent that no competent person was found available to uphold and carry out the sacred tradition and mystical custom pertaining to the house. It became abandoned and was eventually burnt down. Strangely enough, the building Hikurangi years later met with a similar fate, being also burnt down through some unknown cause. The chief and leader of the Ngai-te-Apatu who was in occupation at the time was the late Areta Te Rito. He died soon afterwards and as no thought of re-erecting another building was discussed or mooted by the people, the marae was abandoned by them and became "befogged."

Whatever transpired by the hand of time during the following years and up to the present time, one thing stands out clearly in the imagination and thoughts of those elders, as well as of page 199those of the present generation who are well acquainted with the past history, that the prophecies made by the two tohungas lived on up to the present time. For it was the same spirit which inspired the imagination of Sir Apirana Ngata to utilize his expert knowledge and to use the resources of finance within his power, together with the great support of his tribe, Ngati-Porou, in order that the present Takitimu meeting house might be erected. His was no easy task by any means and several obstacles had to be overcome during the intervening years of its construction. Fired with the same spirit which glowed in the heart of that renowned tohunga, Pakitea, Sir Apirana launched out with one objective, the erection of the Takitimu meeting house, and the fulfilment of a long desired wish by the people of Wairoa.

Movement to Erect a Building.

On the 18th September, 1926, the late Te Hata Tipoki took up the leadership of the tribe and summoned a meeting of members of the Ngati-Te-Apatu tribe to discuss the proposal that a new building be erected on the same site to replace one of the two buildings which had been burnt down.

During the meeting one of the main matters to occupy the minds and attention of all was the fact that the two previous buildings were not alike; in that whilst the Takitimu building was carved, the Hikurangi building had only ornamental carvings painted on, and not carved in the wood. The Takitimu building being the carved one of the two, was unanimously selected by all those present as the most fitting one to be re-erected. The size of the building was arranged to be 45 feet long and 30 feet wide, and the estimated cost of the material to be used in its construction was £2,000. The erection, supervising, and general labour was to be supplied by various members of the tribe.

Shortly after this meeting, the late Sir James Carroll, while passing through Wairoa on his way to Tauranga to unveil a memorial stone to his previous political colleague, the late Sir Wiliam Herries, who had pre-deceased him, called upon the late Hata Tipoki and many others, including the author. After the usual formal greetings in Maori were extended to Sir James, one of the various matters discussed was the proposed scheme for the erection of a building to be called Takitimu. Sir James was so interested and delighted with the proposal that he immediately got in touch with his nephew, Mr. A. T. Carroll, of Huramua Station, and instructed his chauffeur to go at once and bring him in from Huramua so that he might attend the meeting. On the page 200arrival of his nephew, Sir James addressed the meeting in one of his most memorable speeches, and the last that he ever spoke to any of his friends and relatives in Wairoa. His words of counsel fell on the ears of the people like a clarion-call, and the impression of his earnest appeal for unity and staunchness to one another became a knot of steel which human anger could not shatter or break.

The meeting was so impressive and inspiring that sleep was a forgotten thing and it lasted throughout the night. In the early hours of the morning the old man was farewelled by us all, and continued on his journey to Tauranga by car. Unconscious of the fact that this was our last parting in this world, we bade him farewell in the usual manner, hoping that he would have a pleasant trip and a safe return. His parting words, which now have stung our hearts were: "Noho iho ra e Hata; kia mau, kia kaha ki te whakaara i te oha a te hunga kua ngaro ki te Po, a maku koutou e tautoko." Added meaning and lustre were given to these words through the loss which we all suffered shortly afterwards in the passing of our friend, relative and guide. They may be translated as follows: "Remain behind Hata. Be strong in heart and spirit; do not waver one moment but be full of courage and staunchness to uphold the traditions and customs of your forebears which they learnt to love and die for in their days of trial and tribulation. My assistance and support is at your command at all times."

While attending the funeral tangi of Sir James at his home in Gisborne about a fortnight later, He Hata announced his intention of putting up a carved meeting house as a monument to the great legislator. This was the first suggestion that the proposed new Takitimu House be a memorial. Thus in order to carry out the old man's wish, both of reviving the old Marae, and bringing about unity among the people, was born the idea of the Carroll Memorial Marae, with all its buildings as it now stands.

Preparation of Papa-whare or Foundation of a House.

It is, according to Maori belief, a most unlucky act to prepare a site for a new house and then abandon it for another. It is an unwarrantable interference with the body of the Earth Mother, also builders must work continuously at a house, and attend to nothing else until the house is finished. Even to the present day there are superstitious remarks that the death of the late Hata Tipoki (who was the chief and leader of the people in the page break
The Main Entrance of Takitimu House Showing the Mahau (verandah) and the carved doorway representingRongomai-wahine, the famous ancestress.

The Main Entrance of Takitimu House
Showing the Mahau (verandah) and the carved doorway representing
Rongomai-wahine, the famous ancestress.

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The Interior of Takitimu House Taken from the back, or stage end.

The Interior of Takitimu House
Taken from the back, or stage end.

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Placement of the Names of Figures of the Takitimu House
Commencing from the Back of the Western Corner of
the House.

  • Name of Ancestors.

    7.—Te Whati-Apiti
    25.—Te Huki
    31.—Te Rehunga
    32.—Te Kapua-Matotoru
    45.—Te Matuahanga
    46.—Te Kawiti
    51.—Te Wera Hauraki
page break

Other Figures

  • On the right-hand side "Maihi," or barge-board, is the picture of the Takitimu Canoe.
  • And on the "Ama," or slab supporting the maihi, are two figures: On top, Tamatea-ariki-nui (Captain of the Takitimu canoe); Bottom, Ruawharo (Priest of the Takitimu canoe).
  • On the left-hand side "Maihi" is the picture of the Horouta Canoe.
  • And on the "Ama," or slap supporting the maihi, are two figures: On top, Pawa (Captain of the Horouta canoe); Bottom, Kiwa (Priest of the Horouta canoe).
  • On top of "Maihi," or bargeboards, is the "Tiki," named Kahungunu.
  • On top of the door lintel is the "Pare," named Rongomai-wahine.
  • At the back of the right-hand side of the wall is the figure Hine-Matioro.
  • And at the foot of the flagpole is the figure named Tu-Tane-Kai.
page 201 erection of the Takitimu House) was attributable to his consenting to have the house built at Te Uhi (where now the Taihoa Hall is built), and afterwards insisting in building it at the original proposed site at Wai-hirere where the house now stands.

We will now note how a superior house, a whare whakairo, or carved house was built. The levelling of the floor space was done by the eyes as well as they could, and then, to find out any uneven spots, the builders waited for a shower of rain and then took note of where the pools lay. Having levelled the site, the four corners of the oblong building were marked by means of stout pegs driven firmly into the earth, those marking the rear end of the house being first inserted. This rectangular space was squared by means of measuring the diagonals. The cord employed was termed taura ta-tai. A cord was carried right around the rectangular site outside the four pegs, and, when stretched taut, this cord served as a guide in aligning the wall posts of ends and sides, as also the posts erected at the front and rear walls to support the ridgepole.

A house depended for stability on the ridgepole. The side posts were not designed to bear the weight and the thrust of the roof, hence, the ridgepole and its supporting posts were baulks of a considerable size, hewn into shapely form with much labour. The rear post for the ridgepole, the pou-tuarongo, was erected in the middle of the rear wall, while the pou-tahuhu was in the middle of the front wall. If a large house, a third supporting post for the ridgepole (tahuhu) was set up in the middle of the house; this is the pou-toko-manawa (or heart supporting-post). The walls of our superior house were composed of wide, flat slabs or planks (poupou) of hewn timber set in the earth, while the spaces between the slabs were lined with decorative panels to be described anon. The roof was supported by massive hewn rafters (heke) the lower ends of which were fitted into the upper ends of the poupou, the mortice hole made to receive them being a square one, called waha-paepae, or semicircular, termed whakaruar-whetu. It is noted that rafters of such a house are often curved somewhat, not straight hewn, the convex side being uppermost. The upper ends of the rafters were so fashioned as to fit against the ridgepole, being provided with a shoulder The ridgepole was, in some districts, secured to its supporting posts by strong ties of aka, or vines, that fitted into channels on the posts. In some districts, we are told, that they were hollowed to accommodate the curve of the under part of the ridgepole. No form of nail was known; lashing supplied their place.

page 202

Description of the Takitimu Carved House.

This building is 95 feet long and 38 feet wide, the walls are 11 feet high, the outer wall being built of concrete up to the level of the window sills. The frame work is of steel, the foundations are of concrete, while the timber throughout is sound heart. The Maori work comprises roof lining of kakaho reeds, which, if kept dry, will last as long as the soundest timber. The panel material consists of heart-rimu horizontal laths, lashed to vertical kakaho rods by carefully selected kiekie and pingao (a deep orange-coloured seaside grass) which are as durable, if kept dry, as the best timber in the structure.

The carvings were executed by experts and students of the Rotorua School of Maori Arts under the direction of the late Mr. H. Hamilton.

Most of the carvings were done at Rotorua, the rest being carved at Wairoa during the progress of the erection of the house.

List of Workers.

  • Carvers:
    • Tama-te-kapua Te Raihi, of Te Arawa, Rotorua.
    • Pineamine Taiapa, of Ngati-Porou, Tikitiki, East Coast.
    • Hone Taiapa, of Ngati-Porou, Tikitiki, East Coast.
    • Charlie Tuarau, of Raratonga.
    • Tame Te Naera, of Te Arawa, Rotorua.
    • Willie Iotua, of Raratonga, and other assistants.
  • Tukutuku Stitching:
    • Mrs. Ririhira Heketa, of Ngati-Kahungunu, Wellington.
    • Miss Mirriam Heketa, of Ngati-Kahungunu, Wellington.
    • Mrs. Raiha Wickham, of Ngati-Raukawa, Otaki.
    • Miss Peggy Pitt, of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Gisborne.
    • Miss Roa Tuhou, of Ngati-Porou, Ruatoria.
    • With the exception of the above-named, who acted as instructors, the whole of this work was done by the local women, free of cost.
  • Builders, etc.:
    • Mr. R. J. Wills, of Tikitiki—Plans and building.
    • Mr. Ballantyne—Building.
    • Mr. Wright, of Gisborne—Paintwork and scroll-patterns.
    • Mr. Tawhai Takoko, of Tikitiki, East CoastKakaho roof lining.
    • Mr. Willie Bevan, of Otaki—Tukutuku panels and general.
  • Carvings:
    • Under the direction of Mr. H. Hamilton, Director of the Rotorua School of Maori Arts and Crafts.page 203
    • General design and architecture, and the supervision of Tukutuku work, Hon. Sir A. T. Ngata.

Cost of Building.

The approximate cost of the buildings, including the opening function and other expenses was as follows:—

Preparation of the site and ground, such as surveying, levelling, rolling, grassing, fencing, roading and metalling roads 760
Building and pakeha material other than general labour 6,190
Material, carving and transporting from Rotorua 2,500
Building of Taihoa kitchen 600
Material and thatching and weaving 2,000
General Labour 1,000
Opening function 2,500
Balance in hand 450

The above costs were met by the following donations and subscriptions:—

East Coast Maori Land Trust 16,500
Mangatu Trust Lands 1,000
Various Maori Land Boards 620
Carnegie Trust 500
Treasury 500
Native Trust 500
Wairoa Local Maoris 500
Wairoa-Gisborne Pakehas 250
Tawapata South Block 250
Carroll Memorial Committee Old Fund 360
Ormond Family 100
Maori Tribes of New Zealand 3,000
Canteen Takings 500
Entertainment, Haka, Concert and Dance 1,000
Sports, Football and Hockey 420
page 204

Note.—Although the writer was the organising secretary, some of the moneys were collected and paid out by different channels. Therefore the above is just a rough estimate, but it is not far wrong.

Description and Names.

It is a difficult matter to give the names of different parts of a house by description. It would have been more satisfactory if the house were photographed and numbered with corresponding names, but owing to the effect of the war and shortage of film, this course could not be followed.

However, notwithstanding this difficulty, we will endeavour to describe the main parts and names thereof:—

The Front Gable.

On top of the gable stands the figure of Kahungunu, the eponymous ancestor of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe whose history is fully recorded in this book. This figure is the tiki of ornamental figure, and is held by the Maori to be the most important adornment of a house, and must be represented by the most prominent ancestor of the tribe. On the barge-board or maihi sloping downwards on the right-hand side of the building, is the carved picture of the Takitimu canoe. On the lower end of the barge-board, in line with the outer wall of the building, is a slab supporting the maihi called ama. On this are carved two figures; on top is Tamatea-Ariki-nui alias Tamatea-Mai-Tawhiti, who commanded the Takitimu canoe, and whose history is recorded in this book. Below is the figure of Ruawharo, the High Priest of Takitimu, whose history is recorded in this book. On the left-hand maihi or barge-board is carved the picture of the Horouta canoe. On the ama or supporting slab are carved two figures: Pawa, the commander of the Horouta, and that of Kiwa, the priest below.

Door Lintel or Pare.

On this is carved the figure of Rongomai-wahine (the mother ancestress of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe, and whose history is recorded in this book). The door is called Tatau, the door-way is Kuwaha, while the window is Matapihi.

Front Pou-tahuhu or Pillar.

To the right of the main door after entering the building, stands a masive pillar, in two pieces, 24 feet high and 32 inches wide, on which is carved three figures. The highest is Kahukura-nui, the centre one is Rakai-paaka, and the lowest, Te Huki. These are the most prominent ancestors in the line of male page 205descendants (ure pukaka) of the Kahungunu tribe, whose respecttive histories are recorded in this book.

Rear Pou-tuarongo.

At the opposite or rear gable of the building the central pillar or pou-tuarongo corresponds to the central pillar of the front gable, being in two pieces forming together a pillar of 24 feet high by 32 inches wide. On this is carved three figures. Puhi-Kai-Ariki at the top; Muri-whenua in the centre; and Te Wera Hauraki at the bottom.

Bordering the pou-tahuhu, and pou-tuarongo at each end of the interior of the building are panels with representations of human figures in grotesque manner of wood carving.

Pou-pou or Slabs (Posts).

On these pou-pou, which correspond with each side of the walls of the building and supporting the heke (rafters) are carved the representative figures of the main ancestors of the Maori people of New Zealand, whose names are indicated by silver plates fixed on them, and whose respective histories have been recorded in this book.

Tukutuku or Decorative Panels.

The framework and rigid elements of the panels filling the interspaces between the carved slabs of different patterns is called pu-kiore.

The flexible elements, keikei, both plain white and black, and pingao, were assembled by the Maori Purposes Board.

The stitching and lashing of the panels were first started in an outbuilding of the Old Dominion Museum, behind Parliament Buildings, by young women selected from the district between Otaki, Gisborne and Wellington, who were instructed in the art by Sir A. T. Ngata. The technique displayed in the finished panels is unequalled in any other building in the Dominion.

The patterns follow closely the standards adopted and well known in the East Coast districts. Two features of old-time superior houses (Porourangi at Wai-o-matatini and Hamokorau at Whakato) are revived in the panels.

The central rod tunatakahuki or kahuki was twined round with the overlapping wrapped stitch known as pihapiha-mango (East Coast) or whakaiwituna (Roto-rua), and finished off with a carved top. The kahopatu or batten covered the space at the eaves between the roof and wall, and between the carved upright slabs. This pattern is not painted as in most modern meeting page 206houses, but is bound with kiekie or pingao (or a combination of both) as in the old houses.

The Ko-whai or Painted Rafters and Scroll-Patterns.

No superior Runanga House is complete without the scroll-patterns on the rafters and other parts of it. The Takitimu rafters, battens, heke-tipi (end rafters) and maihi, or barge-boards, are in the approved patterns of ko-whai-whai.

The broad ridge-piece, or tahuhu, is painted with an approved design, which is supported by two centre-posts called Pou-toko-manawa.