Friday, March 31, 2023
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Rotorua Museum was hosting ‘Sing Aotearoa’ this year at Labour Weekend and my 3rd cousin, Michael Littlewood whose wife Vivien was participating,

thought that this would be an ideal opportunity to see if a visit to view our Tupuna Taonga would be possible. After much negotiation on Michael’s part with the Museum and the Te Arawa Trust Board, agreement was reached and the event was advised to some of the family. From an original group of half a dozen interested family members, the group on the day grew to 23 direct descendants of Papaharakeke through his daughter Tiraha with 10 partners. Ages ranged from the over 80 year old Aunty Betty Pilcher and her husband John, to Megan and Nicki Cook who have not yet reached their teens.

We met at the Rotorua Museum on Friday 25th October at 1pm and were warmly welcomed to the Museum by Manaaki Pene, Collection Manager for the Museum. She then took us downstairs to a meeting room on the lower ground floor where our Tupuna Taonga Papaharakeke was displayed in its archival box. The Mihi Whakatau was led by Mauriora Kingi, Director Kaupapa Māori with the Rotorua District Council. He was supported by Anaru Rangiheuea who is a Trustee of Papaharakeke and Manahi Bray – both of whom are members of Te Pukenga Koeke o Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa. Pamela Lovis, Deputy Director of the Museum and Manaaki Pene were also in support throughout the afternoon.
On behalf of  the whanau attending, Graham Cook responded with his mihi including a wonderful rendition of the whakapapa of Papaharakeke, the man and the line down to himself. His waiata ‘Te Ngao o Te Wheiao’ was full of heartfelt meaning and much appreciated by all those attending.  Anaru Rangiheuea spoke in light of his role as Trustee and was followed by John Cook talking of his research into William and Tiraha Cook (Papaharakeke’s daughter). Michael Littlewood then  told us about his journey over the last few years discovering his links to this early Pakeha-Māori family from the North.
The formal part of the welcome was completed by Mauriora Kingi and due to the size of the room, only the senior manuhiri participated in the hongi with the Museum’s representatives. We were all then invited to hold the patu onewa and pose for whanau and individual photographs.  For most of us the opportunity to hold this Tupuna Taonga was an unbelievable experience. While the patu was never held by our tupuna, the fact that it bears his name with such reverence and that the story is still linked strongly to the manner of his passing gave many a chill as they picked it up and cast their thoughts back in time.
Once the photographer Robert Jones,  had exhausted his patience in waiting for each group to get together for their photos and all the individuals posing with threatening looks as they held the patu, Anaru Rangiheuea gave a blessing for the afternoon tea that the Museum had provided. We all moved into the dining room where the real action was taking place. This was whakawhanaungatanga in action.
Although I had attended the 2006 Cook Whanau Reunion at Labour Weekend in Waikare, Bay of Islands,  I had not met most of these whanau members before. We looked for family likenesses amongst the different family groups and then for the same looks amongst ourselves. We met as strangers in knowledge but family in blood and by the end of the afternoon we were swapping email addresses and phone numbers to keep in touch. We now all claim Aunty Betty as our own matriarch.
Once the viewing and afternoon tea were over, we were invited to tour the Museum to view the other treasures it holds. At this stage, most family members broke away into their own groups – the talking did not stop however and all who visited that day were very glad they came.
The whole afternoon was a very moving experience. There is no known picture or description of Papaharakeke the man, but through his death and the efforts of Hongi Hika to mark his passing, we have been able to make a connection back through time. Michael Littlewood has been warmly thanked by us all for bringing us together for a very special remembrance of a man we are part of.
The Rotorua Museum and Te Pukenga Koeke o Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa are also to be congratulated for having had the courage to let us loose with such a revered taonga. It is hoped that this event will lead to others being able to reconnect with their own tupuna taonga held in Rotorua Museum and other repositories throughout Aotearoa. I would encourage other families to get in touch with Museums in their rohe to see if these connections can be re-established.
Background - The Auckland War Memorial Website Te Kakano, states in part that Ngapuhi warrior, Papaharakeke (my 4th great grandfather) was killed by Tuhourangi at Motutawa Island on the encouragement of Te Rauparaha. The patu onewa ‘Papaharakeke’ was made by Ngapuhi to seek retribution for the death of Papaharakeke, but was never used. In 1933, the Hon. Sir Apirana Ngata presented ‘Papaharakeke’  to Te Arawa as a token of friendship from Ngapuhi. Later that year, Mr Hamuera Tai Mitchell deposited ‘Papaharakeke’  in the Auckland Museum on behalf of the Te Arawa Trust Board. ‘Papaharakeke’ was returned to the Te Arawa Trust Board in 2007.
Jack Lee in his book ‘I have named it the Bay of Islands’ supports this story with information given to him by his wife’s family connections.
The patu is made of stone measuring 12.8cm x 7.6cm, it is made of dark grey to black stone. It has 3 grooves on the butt and a cratered wristcord hole. The blade is blunt and the surface is worn and polished.

Further reference is made to the death of Papaharakeke in The Taonui Manuscript written in 1849 by Aperahama Taonui, a son of Makoare Taonui, chief of the Te Popoto iwi of the Ngapuhi federation. He was born about 1815 and lived at Omanaia in the Hokianga - so he was living and reporting on events happening in his lifetime. In 1848, John White, son of Rev J White of Mata, Hokianga,  asked him to write down the history of the Ngapuhi, which he did in 1849, in a small notebook of 43 pages. This notebook was presented some years later to the Auckland Institute and Museum Library where is it now catalogued as the Taonui Manuscript.
The relevant passages from his manuscript read as follows:
“Te Raho        begot Tihe
Tihe                begot Wheki
Wheki             begot Papa
Papa               begot Tiraha who lives in Paihia
Papa died at Rotorua, murdered by Te Raupahara (sic)
This was the reason for (Ngapuhi) going to Rotorua. Ngapuhi sought to kill them so it was by treachery, a house was built, those visitors were called to the house. The high fence had been finished, being made beforehand. There were sixty men, and three hundred locals. Maori dogs were killed, the hair was burnt in the fire so that the odour should come to the visitors, so that they should say food for us, no, it was a deception. Te Rauparaha stood up and said an incantation. And he got the canoe. Those men were killed by him and he paddled to shore. The sixty were all eaten.”
Lorraine RICE.
The Taonui Manuscript – Aperahama Taonui, 1849, AIL.
‘I have named it the Bay of Islands’ – Jack Lee, 1983
Te Kakano -