Thursday, November 13, 2008

From a guardian of Motai

I have happy memories of visiting Motai, the sacred niu pou erected in 1865 by followers of the Pai Marire religion who had taken refuge from the colonial government in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges.

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 Skyler and I spent an hour or so driving down one dusty back road after another, guided only by an out of date map and a 1980 paper by Evelyn Stokes, before we spotted Motai rising over the crest of a hill where sheep grazed and several ancient rimu grew.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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, but Te Kooti's magnificent flag was called "Te Wepu, not "Te Wetu".

6:31 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Oops - I'll change that!

9:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this for real?

1:50 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

of course it's for real - I took the photos

11:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rengarenga was the 1st wananga,From there you went to Te Hanga the 2nd,The last and final wananga was called Te Whaiti Kuranui,each wananga had its own Kaupapa of teaching.Now these 3 old wananga ended up as Marae for the hapu of Ngati Motai and Ngati Te Apunga.
King Tawhiao opened Rengarenga in 1914,I hold the last Pou to this old whare also.Te Hanga is bury in the ground now,The last carving is at Ukaipo Marae.Te Whaiti Kuranui was the name of Wananga tuturu o Raukawa,Te Pa o Motai is the name of the marae,I hold the Toki o Motai.Te Pou o Motai marks these special places,The fenced of area's around the Pou are tribal Urupa.
Mere Hemi(Mary Jane)is the name of the ship,from which the Pou o Motai comes from.
It was a Tohunga from Ngati Motai/Te Apunga Raukawa,that stood the Pou o Motai up,This name was never to be mention again,But for us to learn,I will tell you.
This name is Te Ao Katoa=
(The whole world)also known as Te Ao Marama=(The world of light)Tiwai of Waikato also help,This was done with Karakia only to stand the Pou o Motai! Wiremu Tamehana was there also of Ngat haua.
Henry Tuwhangai lifted the tapu from the Pou o Motai,So nobody would get hurt ,In the early 1990's.
Te Wepu was 15 m long,It was lost to a clearer in the Auckland Museum who ripped it up and used it for a clearing rag.Someone said to one day that,The flag came from a Nun's Inn.The Whip=Te Wepu! made a big cracking noise in the wind.
The Kingtanga try to take the Pou o Motai to Turangawaewae,But Raukawa and Ngati Haua,Stop this from happening.
Te Apunga/Paparamu Marae(Tirau)is the last standing place for our people,Maori proverb's about Motai.
"He Iti na Motai"
"Motai Tangata Rau"
This is the land of Ngati Motai and Ngati Te Apunga Tauranga whanui
Ko tenei te reo karanga o oku tupuna!
Raukawa Ki te Kaokaoroa o Patetere te Iwi nui tonu!

7:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

foofilepectionCan you tell me what road it is on?

8:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Botton of the Kaimais rangers near Te Poi. Rapurapu rd turn off on to kakahu rd. Be careful respect.

4:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Mananui for your history of this magnificent "Monument" and it's significance makes me very proud to be a descendant of Motai or more precisely direct descendant of two of the "Six Sisters" Neke & Rukenga. My recent visit back to my fathers ancestral lands, our Marae Te Apunga and a visit to the Puo has given to me the determination to come home after 33yrs in Australia and walk the path of Maoritanga.

2:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

tena koutou katoa,I am a direct descendant of Te Aokatoa,I'm from Raukawa ki Wharepuhunga,and I just in awe of what is here

7:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tena hoki e te whanau whanui, Neke raua ko Rukenga oku nei kuia no Karanama Te Kuta,nana te Rangatira o Paparamu Marae. Ko Okeroa te kuia taku.

Kia ora ano e te whanau nga o Parawera, Marae ,ko te tupuna whare ko Te Ao- katoa,nana ano te tohunga rawa atu o Raukawa.
Ka nui ana mana nui !

5:08 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

This pou was featured on TVNZ's Waka Huia on 23 August 2015

11:55 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, Kia Ora. Can anyone tell me who is currently responsible or guardian for the old Marae site on Kakahu Road and the nui? I am trying to put together information about it. I went there to a funeral when I was a young boy and lived in Rapurapu Road for many years. 022 029 4844.

12:06 pm  
Blogger Tania said...

Mahirahi Te Mananui,I was voted in as spokenmen for "Te Niu o Motai" via 11A Te Hanga Trust and whanau and Te Apunga/Paparamu marae Trustees as the culture adviser.

2:27 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


11:01 pm  

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