Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute/Volume 30/Article 5

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Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute (1897)
The Building of Hotunui, Whare Whakairo, W. H. Taipari's Carved House at Thames, 1878 by Mereana Mokomoko

The Royal Society of New Zealand

3762624Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute — The Building of Hotunui, Whare Whakairo, W. H. Taipari's Carved House at Thames, 18781897Mereana Mokomoko

Art. V.—The Building of Hotunui, Whare Whakairo, W. H. Taipari's Carved House at Thames, 1878.

Told by Mereana Mokomoko, widow of the late chief, W. H. Taipari, to Gilbert Mair, 12th July, 1897.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, 6th September, 1897.]

My father, Apanui Hamaiwaho, chief of Ngatiawa at Whakatane, built the house Mataatua. Taipari, his father, Hotereni, and myself were invited to go to Whakatane to take away that house, but before we could go Sir Donald McLean visited Whakatane, and Ngatiawa, to show their aroha, gave him the house.

My father then said Ngatiawa would carve a house for me. This was in 1875. Accordingly the work was commenced forthwith, and in May, 1878, the posts were all finished, and about seventy Ngatiawa, under the chiefs Wepiha Apanui (my brother), Rangitukehu te Wharewera, Tiopira Hukiki, Te Putere, and Te Pirini, came to Hauraki, bringing all material. The freight and passages cost £170. The first post erected was named after Pereki Awhiowhio, chief of Ngatiwhanaunga. When an attempt was made to lift the ridge-pole it failed: then we sent for Paroto Manutawhiorangi, who uttered an incantation, or karakia, called "Tehuti o Tainui" (the raising of Tainui), and lo! the great tree was lifted up quickly and easily. Such was the power of magic as exercised by Maori priests of old. During the building a number of the Ngatiawa workmen were smitten with sudden illness, which was attributed to their having burned in a cooking-fire some chips from Apanui's chisel (whao). It was the women who inadvertently committed sacrilege, and the sickness which fell upon our people was termed a mate-ruahine. When several persons had died, my brother Wepiha came to me at dawn of day saying, "Kua ngaro a Ngatiawa (Ngatiawa will be annihilated). Hasten you quickly to remove the spell caused by the desecration of the work of our father's chisel." I hurried to the spot, and in the midst of the assembly a small fire was made of chips from the carvings, and two kumara roasted therein, which were offered to me to eat. I trembled with fear, lest death should come to me also; but the old men said, "Fear not, you are equal in mana to Apanui, your father, and you alone can remove this spell which is destroying Ngatiawa." I then ate the roasted food, and the epidemic ceased. Soon the house was completed, and Wepiha summoned a tohunga called Mohi Taikororeka from Opotiki to perform the ceremonies called "whai kawa"—i.e., making the house "noa," removing the tapu, &c. After this was done, and the men had entered and eaten food in the house, three women (myself, Kitemate Kiritahanga, and Mere Taipari) were sent for to takahi te paepae (to tread on or cross over the threshold, and thus remove the enchantment which debars women from entering a sacred house until this ceremony is ended), for, as you know, the ridge-pole would sag down in the middle and destroy the appearance of the house were this ceremony disregarded. As the morning star (Kopu) rose, we, the three women, crossed over the threshold which Te Raihi, of Ngatihaua, had tapa'd (called) Hape Koroki, and then the mana o te whakairo (the sacredness of the carving) was subjugated, overcome, and women generally were free to enter and eat within the house.

The several tribes of Ngatiawa who took part in the building were as follows: Ngatihokopu, Te Pahipoto, Te Patuwai, Te Patutatahi, &c.

The ridge-pole was a kahikatea (white-pine), procured at Turua. It was carved by Hotereni Taipari himself, and named after his great ancestor Hotunui. These are the generations from that ancestor:—

(1.) Hotunui
(2.) Marutuahu
(3.) Te Ngako
(4.) Kahurautao
(5.) Rautao
(6.) Hape
(7.) Te Poutu
(8.) Paterangi
(9.) Te Hotereni Taipari
(10.) W. H. Taipari = Te Tawai
(11.) Waata Taipari Eruini Taipari

The length of the house is 80 ft.; width, 33 ft.; height, 24 ft.; length of porch, 12 ft.

The figures on the right-hand side of the porch are—(1) Kopuani, (2) Takuao, (3) Te Tai te Hura, (4) Takoto Titaha; inside on the right hand the large figures are as follows: (5) Te Motuituiti, (6) Te Iwi Tuha, (7) Te Putara, (8) Ngahaupaha, (9) (not named), (10) Te Apurangi, (11) Kahurautao, (12) Hape, (13) Matatahi, (14) Ngangaia, (15) Taitoi, (16) Pereki Awhiowhio, (17) Te Whero, (18) Te Umu, (19) Matau, (20) Kiwi.

On the left-hand side of the porch there are—(1) Kauahi, (2) Te Tuki, (3) Horowhenua, (4) Tauaiwi; on the left hand inside the figures are—(5) Paharua, (6) (not named), (7) Ramuri, (8) Parera, (9) Ureia, (10) Rautao Pouwharekura, (11) Uetawhiti, (12) Tapane, (13) Toitoi, (14) Puhoi, (15) Putoa, (16) Kawhero, (17) Pahae, (18) Pakira, (19) Tarakai Kawhia, (20) Riki.

The paepaewaho (threshold of porch) is called "Ruamano."

When the builders were returning to their own place they would not accept payment beyond the food and presents we had given them from time to time, but my father-in-law (Te Hotereni Taipari) felt ill at ease, saying the Ngatimaru had not sustained their ancient name for generosity; so he said to me, "My daughter, do you take this letter quickly to the Bank of New Zealand at Tauranga, and when our friends the Ngatiawa [who were returning by sea] reach that place give them the money the bank-manager will pay you." I travelled day and night overland, and overtook the steamer at Tauranga, and I got the bag of money from the bank, and took it to the people, saying, "Behold! I have brought you a koha (gift) from your grandparent, Hotereni Taipari." £1,000 in single bank notes did I give them, and Ngatiawa went on their way rejoicing.

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