Rua Kēnana cloak comes home

By Herewini Waikato

A feathered cloak, a treasure which has genealogical links to Rua Kēnana, known to his followers as the New Messiah, has been returned on loan to Rua’s beloved Marae Tuapou today.

The feathered cloak has been in the hands of government agencies for more than 105 years and Tūhoe wants the cloak returned permanently in due course.

Today was emotional for Toni Boynton, a descendant of  Kēnana, “It is very emotional. He tino wiriwiri ahau na te mea he hoki ngā mahara o tāku kuia i ngā rā o mua. Ae, it's very emotional to have the return of the cloak and also to the memories of our kuia, Ngawai Whakaataata Mere Tukua, who wore that cloak.”

A kawe mate (Remembering of passed loved ones) was also an important part of the day. Close to 200 people had returned to Matahi in the heart of Waimana-Kāku Tūhoe whenua for the occasion.

Tiare Boyton had mixed emotions about today and still holds onto the past pains, “Our elders have told us they are still saddened by what the government did to our people who were living in Maungapōhatu, the atrocities done to them. Yes, we still remember that hurt.”

The Kahu Huruhuru that was worn by Ngaiwai Whakaataata 105 years ago is only on loan during a Rua Kēnana Symposium over the next few weeks. It will then go back into the hands of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum. As for Toni and her father Tiare they have other plans.

Tiare, “Let us build a house to take care of these treasures. It will need to be a particular type of house to care for it that it will not be lost.”

Toni, “Our rangatahi or someone trained to curate and to be able to know what is needed in terms of the environment that is needed to maintain these taonga. They are over a hundred years old and we want to ensure they are still around in another 100 years' time.”

This Saturday the Rua Kēnana Symposium will be held on Tuapou Marae.