Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho
By Dr Peter N. Meihana (Ngā Pakiaka Mōrehu o te Whenua: Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitane, Ngai Tahu)
Recently we have had the good fortune of having this taonga made available to us. Ginny Brownlee of Nelson posted the photograph on the Old Marlborough Facebook page, where it was noticed by some of our whānau. When we contacted Ginny and explained to her its significance she informed her father, Bill, who was happy to koha the photograph back us. Since then a large amount of discussion and research has taken place. What the process has highlighted is that we are quickly losing people who can identify elders of previous generations. In lieu of this knowledge we were left with having to historicise the photograph and go from there.
What we know for certain is that the gentleman seated with the taiaha is Meihana Kereopa, and the man kneeling in the foreground is his son, Tahuariki. We know that the wharenui was built in 1899 and that Meihana died in October 1914. We can conclude, then, that the photograph was taken in the first decade, or so, of the 20th century.
By this time Meihana’s wife, Hana Whiro, had died. We are quite certain that the (fair) woman standing over Meihana’s right shoulder is Tire White, Tahuariki’s mother-in-law. Therefore, it is likely that the younger women are Tire’s daughters, or perhaps, Tahuariki’s sisters. As Tire is the mother of the Te Mete (Smith) whānau it might be that one or more of the young men are Tire’s sons. It has also been suggested that the young men to the right might be Hippolites, which would also make sense as the Hippolite whānau were living in Ruapaka at this time.
The Ruapaka community pictured here are a mixed Kurahaupō community who were originally from Ohana, at the southern end of Rangitoto. Their Ngāti Apa connection comes from Te Āhuru, a Ngāti Apa migrant whose son, Kainu, married Te Manuhikuroa of Ngāti Hinekauwhata. Kainu and Te Manuhikuroa’s sons, Kereopa Ngarangi and Hama Hamuera, were the trustees of Orakauhamu 26B2A and 26B2B. The former block was set aside as a cemetery reserve (where in fact Meihana is buried), the latter, a meeting house reserve. Both these blocks were severely reduced in size when land was taken for a road.
The community that sprung up at Ruapaka is a testament to the resilience and tenacity of the Kurahaupō people, and, an example for their descendants.
On June 28, Ngā Pakiaka Mōrehu o te Whenua, In collaboration with Massey University and the Millennium Public Art Gallery in Blenheim, will host, ‘Remembering the Kurahaupō Settlement: Ngā Pakiaka Mōrehu o te Whenua’, a photographic exhibition documenting the Kurahaupō settlement. The photograph will be one of the items on display. To mark the event Ngā Pakiaka Mōrehu will make available a high-resolution downloadable copy from our website. Other photographs and images will also be made available for download on the evening of June 28.