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HOME AT LAST
One of the biggest gatherings that ever
|Ngatokimatawhaorua Home at Last|
happened at the Pukarata Marae at Otaua on Saturday 13th was to welcome home the historical Ngapuhi waka, Ngatokimatawhaorua. After a large scale restoration the venerable Waka took pride of place in leading the Waka flotilla at the Treaty celebrations at Waitangi and again at Mangungu on the 12th February. The project, to mark the 70 years since it was first launched, has been quietly taking place over the last six months, and, judging by the deeply respectful reception accorded to the Waka and its crew, was an outstanding success.
The crew have had the faith and support of their communities justified. These young men have all grown with the experience, as have also the waiata group who along with the boys have practised their skills every weekend since September. This dedication to the cause was recognised with superb haka and waiata whenever the waka crew was on display, eg at Whakatane, Horeke and Whangaroa prior to the Waitangi Celebrations.
Tau Kopa, the last speaker at the Ceremony spoke eloguently of the occasion, the commitment of those involved, and their hopes for the future. He made special mention of the gratitude of Ngaitu people to all those who had helped with the project and in particular, the unique spirit of co-operation that had come about with the people of Ngati Kahu and Whangaroa because of the project.
In contrast to the Waitangi Treaty Clebrations, Mangungu was more like a happy family gathering, but nevertheless has greater significance because of the greater number of Chiefs whose signatures were gathered at this place in 1840.
|Waka Flotilla Mangungu Horeke|
A dawn service at Oakura was held on the Thursday morning and the waka returned to Horeke later that day.
The Ceremonies took place over three days beginning with the commemorative journey down the harbour by the waka fleet, pausing at significant places such as the last resting place of Toki Pangari, the carver who built Ngatokimatawhaorua.
|Ngatokimatawhaorua at Anchor|
Friday’s Ceremonies began with a salute from the waka, coming down from the Orira river. Ngatokimatawhaorua was accompanied by Rangimarie from Ngati Kahu, Kaitoke from Hokianga and the twin waka Maomao and Kuaka, the newest acquisitions for Ngaitu and Ngati Kahu respectively.
The Rev Alan Upson, Presedent of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, presided over the Memorial Service, which was attended by representatives from the Dept of Conservation, the Historic Places Trust, members of Parliament and a good cross section of the public.
Following the various speakers, the attendees were entertained first by a special re-enactment of events of 12th Feb 1840 by pupils of Horeke school, which was received with very enthusiastic applause. Then it was the time for the Ngatokimatawhaorua waiata and haka teams, who gave one of their best performances ever.
Visitor numbers at the Mission House over this period were probably the greatest yet, and give encouragement to the organisers of what is arguably the most significant historical date on the Northland calendar.