Te Whakatōhea descendants celebrate their identity

By Maiki Sherman

The home-fires of Te Whakatōhea burned strong today as descendants of the tribe gathered to celebrate what it means to be Whakatōhea. The inaugural event, named Te Taunga Waka, pays homage to the arrival of Te Whakatōhea canoes to its shores.

As descendants of Te Whakatōhea came together to celebrate, they also paid homage to their many canoes which birthed in the area of Pākohae at Otutaopuku many years ago. 

Te Riaki Amoamo says, “This is the first time we've held this event, Te Taunga Waka. With the arrival of the canoes came the arrival of the people, the descendants of Muriwai and Tamatea Matangi.” 

Elders are hopeful the event will strengthen the tribe with the idea being for activities such as sports to act as a gateway for the younger generation to get more involved in tribal affairs.

Hohipera Williams says, “Perhaps through this event their support of Te Whakatōhea will strengthen. The support is there somewhat but they, and in fact we, aren't really involved in the issues.”

A sentiment shared by Te Riaki Amoamo, “You don't see them much at the Marae, this generation, so the hope is that we see more of them there as well.”

Te Whakatōhea haka exponent Te Kāhautu Maxwell laid down the challenge on the tennis court. “The mind knows what to do but the legs are another story altogether.” 

The adults lined up in droves for the darts competition. While the essence of the event was captured on the pool-table.

One of the competitors, John Temple showed off his skills on the dart board and told our reporter it was all in the throw, when she asked if it was difficult or easy, he told her it was easy and he was a winner.

According to latest figures by Statistics New Zealand there are just over 12,000 descendants of the Te Whakatōhea tribe, with almost 5000 living here in Te Moana a Toi.

For two brothers currently living in Australia, it is a time to reconnect. Jeremy Shaw of Ngāti Ngahere says, “Bit exciting especially when you play with your brother andf your cousins.”

The event will conclude on Wednesday with a New Year's Eve concert including acts such as Ardijah, Rob Ruha and Whirimako Black, to entertain the people.