Rangiriri Māori tell land wars history through artwork

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Local Māori from the Waikato township of Rangiriri are providing education of their oral histories about the land wars through artwork. 

For the last 20 years Pākeha historians have told their perspective of the land wars that took place, but now a Waikato father and son will give theirs.

The Rangiriri Māori Art Gallery has just opened by owners Brad Totorewa and his son Te Ahorangi.

“There was no Māori voice, perspective, no local Māori were given the opportunity to tell their oral stories of what happened. It's time for the home people to step into that role,” said Brad Totorewa.

Te Ahorangi, is one of the artists.  He explains his artwork titled Tioriori and Te Wharepu.

“According to our oral history, they are suspended high on Rangiriri Pā.  It is said that in 1858 when the land wars were taking place at Rangiriri, their task was to prepare the land to hide the people let say, from the soldiers.”

Brad Totorewa says the concept to open the store came from his son finishing his Māori arts degree at Toihaukura.

“Secondly to establish a Māori business within the community by the local people.”

My desires are to return to the land, return to my hometown to hold fast to our autonomy as Māori people to show the world we are here,” says Te Ahorangi.

Te Ahorangi's second exhibition Ngaa Paahuatanga will be open at the end of April, to coincide with the opening of the newly restored Rangiriri Pā heritage battle site.