From a guardian of Motai
Raised on the rohe of the Ngati Raukawa people, Motai was a focus for Pai Marire ceremonies and a gathering place for Maori plotting resistance to the forces which had occupied their land in the after invading the Waikato region in 1863. In 1869 the legendary Maori guerrilla fighter Te Kooti visited Motai, and ran up his his fifty foot long flag, which was named Te Wepu (the whip) after the sound it made in a stiff breeze. We didn't have a camera with us, so Skyler took a few photos with her cellphone, which has a way of making everything it is aimed at look like an Impressionist painting. You can see the photos and my notes in this blog post.
It wasn't easy to find Motai. Skyler and I spent an hour or so driving down one dusty back road after another, guided only by an out of date map and a 1980 paper by Evelyn Stokes, before we spotted Motai rising over the crest of a hill where sheep grazed and several ancient rimu grew. Apart from Stokes, a Waikato University academic who has written a fine biography of the great Tainui leader Wiremu Tamihana, few scholars seem to have noticed the existence of Motai. In his book-length 1975 study of the Pai Marire movement, Paul Clark never mentions Motai, and actually claims that the niu pou at Maraekowhai in the Whanganui region is the only structure of its type left standing. But the descendants of the people who worshipped at Motai have not forgotten the taonga. Earlier this week one of the present-day guardians of Motai left these comments under my post on the subject:
Kia ora koutou, Ki te pou o Motai, tena koe tu tonu! tu tonu! mo ake tonu atu! Konei to mokopuna a Mahirahi Te Mananui Hireme Tamehana! E tu ake nei, ki te mihi atu ki a koe aku tupuna a Motai!
He Kawai Rangatira koe mai te Ao kohatu! He tonu whakahiriri! mo tatou ou Iwi, hapu, whanau ranei,
He uri tenei no Ngati Motai me Ngati Te Apunga hoki, i nga Marae o Paparamu/Te Apunga, Rengarenga me te Pa o Motai hoki i Whaiti Kuranui, No reira kia ora ano tatou.
Motai/Te Apunga is a big part of my history as Raukawa!
I am one of the last spokesmen for this (Te Pou o Motai) of Te Whaiti Kuranui in the Kaimais.
We still hold mana whenua for these 2 fighting hapu, Motai & Te Apunga of Raukawa Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere.
There are only 3 Pa sites today, Motai's Pa, Rengarenga, Paparamu.
They cover the Kaimais, Okoroire, Matamata, Tirau, Tapapa, Kokako, parts of Tauranga, Mamakus, Horohoro, Hinuwera,
Ruahihi, parts of the Waikato area.
The last teacher at Motai's pou was Motai Pakaru 3rd: that is his house next to the pou.