Stories we tell our children Hikoi with Ngati Apa Rangitikei May 2018

Whangaehu River Valley

1. It was a good day for a hikoi.

A day with big skies that rested like a cloak between me and the land. An expansive land of sloping river flats and dunes. I’ll admit I don’t like mystery tours so I armed my-self with a printout map and a highlighter. I do like signs and I quickly photographed this one on arrival to help me know where I was: Te Wheriko Church, a category 1 Historic Place. Jericho Church in English is a very small uniquely constructed neo-gothic structure, just a dot on this wide land.

Te Wheriko Church, a category 1 Historic Place

Mike Paki’s korero began. Stories of a strong Maori woman healer Mere Rikiriki and Ratana and his parents. Then my feet stopped and rested on the soil. I remembered my Nan Wright was healed by Ratana.

She had come to Aotearoa with her mother and sister on the steamship Tongariro full of hope along with a trunk I now have, still labelled Napier, Third Class, not wanted on voyage and a sewing machine which I also have. My Nan went into service doing house work and at one point suffered from severe housemaid’s knee. None of the old wives’ cures or those of the medical profession of the time could remedy it. In desperation, she wrote to Ratana asking for a healing. Although he had a secretary to answer the vast amount of mail he was receiving, he was known to sign every letter. It would have said this:

All things are possible with God. He has power to do with his hands that which He has promised with his mouth. Appeal to your Lord Jesus Christ with a real heart belief that He and He alone heal you of your ailment. Pray to Him in the name of the Father Son Holy Ghost and the Holy Angels with a sincere beautiful and reverent prayers so therefore repent that ye may receive His grant as I will also pray to Him to grant your request.

Sanction His name and sing His praise for ever and ever Amen.


As my feet rested on this land and the beautiful sky billowed beyond the horizons, I remembered that this was a story she told.

Nan’s trunk always lived beside her bed and I sat on it to take this photograph. It was my birthday and she always pick violets for me.

2. The cloak of morning cloud had lifted.

Standing high overlooking the Whangaehu I felt I was almost home. Not because it was near the end of the day but because through the dramatic descriptions of the inter-iwi rivalry I heard a familiar name. Te Kooti had visited Kauangaroa.


I know Te Kooti. My Great Nanny and the rest of the children were hidden under the eiderdown each time Te Kooti announced his arrival and rode through the streets of Wairoa. The shot gun under the bed and the absolute fear was real. Te Kooti is an unfolding narrative I continue to inquire about.

Great nanny and me

Te Kooti was highly intelligent, visionary and smart. He knew that communities that worked together grew in strength and identity. For Maori, Te Kooti knew this had to happen fast taking advantage of the best of tradition and innovation. And so he inspired a huge number of building projects. The tapu of not finishing or copying someone else’s art was lifted, quick shallow carving, multi-coloured figurative painted whakairo was introduced. The master carver would outline for even children to paint; all under the cloak of his Christian Ringatu Church.

The Taihape meeting house with its gorgeous sunflower is a Te Kooti Whare Tipuna. One of the most famous whare made for Te Kooti is Rongopai near Gisborne. Rongopai means good news; the Gospel.



And as we learned, so was Kimihia Te Ora, the wharepuni at Nga Wairiki’s Kauangaroa Marae.

As Dr. Mike Paki cited: to Kimihia Te Kooti said:

“I open you as a shelter for the birds of the air that they may enter and bathe in the warmth of the peace of God. What does it matter that you are few; embrace what you have and others will follow”

3. Nuku Tewhatewha

To begin with, I would like to introduce you to Nuku Tewhatewha, a discovery I made in 2 years ago on our senior Art Trip to the Wellington. It is a beautiful pataka whakairo or carved storehouse.

Nuku Tewhatewha


Built in 1856 for Te Atiawa, Ngati Ruanui and Taranaki iwi, it is now at the Dowse Gallery. Interestingly, this pataka, was not for food but represented wisdom and if anything was to be stored there, it would be the taonga of the chiefs such as feathered cloaks. It was part of the Kingitanga Movement that was born at Pukawa alongside Grace’s Mission Station. You will notice the praying hands of the Tekoteko at the top of the Pataka.

Today I think of Nuku Tewhatewha as a metaphorical storehouse

What wisdom would you place in a pataka such as this?

What stories should be kept, retold and become the source of future curiosity and inquiry?

Find out more with my kiwiconnexion.nz profile: go to https://kiwiconnexion.nz/user/view.php?id=49

Haere pai tenei ra

Created By
Lavinia Elder


Lavinia Elder

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