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Friday 25th March—Monday 28th March 2016

By Kelly Maia GUNN

From Friday the 25th of March to Monday the 28th 2016 we held the Pohoiwi Whanau Reunion down in Tikitiki at Rahui Marae. This reunion was organised by a whanau committee for the descendants of my Great Grandparents, Erueti and Matekino POHOIWI, and we had been planning it for the last 18+ months.
We had whanau members from all 8 branches of Erueti and Matekino’s children attend; Aunty Maata (Martha), Aunty Te Rina (Lena), Uncle Te Rangimarie, Aunty Maia, Aunty Whakaara(Lala), Uncle Te Manawanui Marie (Mana), Aunty Taumau (Dolly) and Aunty Tuakana Whakarite (Dee). They had 18 children all up, with only 8 surviving to Adulthood and going on to have children of their own. We were blessed to have all 8 children represented and had whanau from all 5 generations down attend; my Kuia, Tuakana being the oldest at 85 and the youngest was baby Leo, who is the 2 x greatgrandson of Uncle Te Rangimarie and the 3 x great grandson of Erueti and Matekino.
As part of our planning we put together a whakapapa of the descendants of Erueti and Matekino using a site called ‘My Heritage’ it took us around 9 months to source and add all of the generations. It required a lot of patience and pestering of whanau to get it completed, but it was well worth the effort. We printed and displayed 9 family tree charts from the website; one of Erueti and Matekino & all of their children and their partners, and then one for each of the 8 children and all of their descendants. The longest was Uncle Te Rangimarie’s, which was around 7 meters long! The printed whakapapa’s were one of the highlights of our reunion, we displayed them on the plain panel walls in the whare-kai for everyone to study and discuss over the weekend. Whanau had a great time finding themselves on the charts and seeing how we were all connected. At the end of the reunion one person from each whanau got to take their branches whakapapa home as a keepsake. We will continue to update and add to our whakapapa online; we will now be adding previous generations, correcting some small errors and adding new tamariki as they are born, there are currently 1199 people on our online whakapapa.

Moving on to the actual reunion…We were welcomed on to the Marae with a poiwhiri on the Friday afternoon; my Kuia, Tuakana lead the way with her eldest son Billy Gunn-James and nephew Henare Nukunuku walking either side, with the rest of the whanau following their footsteps. This was a perfect start to kicking off the reunion and with all the traditions and greetings completed, we were free to start settling in to Rahui marae.
We completed registration with the sign in of around 160 whanau members and handed out our personalised reunion tees and name tags. We had 8 different coloured tees, a different colour for each branch printed with a design created by one of Aunty Maia’s mokos, Francis Hamon. Everyone looked awesome in their tees and we were all ready to set up camp or settle in to the wharenui. We had a tent city set up to the side of the marae and a few camper vans too, whanau had travelled in from all over NZ, some from as far as the South Island. We also had whanau that had travelled over from Australia. We hired Hinepare Marae out too as Uncle Te Rangimarie’s branch is so big they needed their very own whare to sleep in. The Friday night activities were relaxed, with everyone doing there bit to set up the wharekai for dinner and catching up over kai; there were many cousins that had not seen each other in years, nieces and nephews that had not seen Aunty Dee since the last whanau tangi and of course cuzzies that had never meet. We also did the whakawhanaungatanga, with all of the main branches getting up to introduce themselves and have a waiata, this was very special to watch and participate in.
Saturday morning was abuzz with life as we all converged on the wharekai for breakfast and a rundown of the day’s events.
We had several activities planned for the Saturday with Teena Hireme, one of Aunty Lena’s moko leading the team. In the morning we played Housie and had a Star Weaving workshop in the wharekai and sports games down at the school in the early afternoon, which were a hit with young and old. We had our main Hangi late on Saturday afternoon, with the wharekai full to the brim with whanau, this was followed by a themed night “White Night.” We all dressed in white clothes for a bit of fun and spent the evening singing old school songs, sharing a drink and having a go at karaoke. We also had a projector and screen set up with movies in the wharenui for the little ones to keep them happy and entertained.
On Sunday we saw a repeat of the Saturday with breakfast, us Maori’s can cook up a mean feed! We had some whanau go to the church service for Easter Sunday and we held a scavenger/Easter egg hunt on the marae, which was well received by the kids. We held a Euchre tournament in the wharekai before lunch, with Kuia and her partner coming in at second place, winning a delicious box of chocolates. We all went out and about in the afternoon; some went off to visit the whanau urupa and pay their respects, many went down to the beach for a sand castle competition and the building of a bonfire, others went to visit the old homesteads or to see Te Aio o Nukutaimemeha waka, which is perched out on private property just off the beach. We were blessed with beautiful weather so we all took advantage of it. We had a variety of activities on Sunday night after another delicious kai; the karaoke was set up again, ready for us to belt out a few tunes, we have many cousins with amazing voices. We also had gospel singers performing over at St Mary’s church, which was a bit of a treat and the lighting of the bonfire with some storytelling and history sharing down at the beach.
Monday was our final day and after one last yummy reunion breakfast we proceeded to packing up and loading our cars, preparing for the journey home. We spent a couple of hours cleaning the marae from top to bottom, leaving it ready for the next whanau to use. We took one last round of photos outside the wharenui before we all said our final goodbyes and hit the road.
On reflection our reunion was a huge success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We think the final head count was over 200 people as quite a few whanau arrived after the sign in. It had been 23 years since the last Pohoiwi Whanau reunion, so this one was long overdue and gave whanau the opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives, meet new whanau members and share memories of times past. People were already asking when we would be holding the next one! Everyone was pretty keen to do it all over again and the general consensus was sooner than later.
I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to Kelly for this excellent report—thank you so much for your time and effort Kelly—Bruce.

In Loving Memory of

Thomas Gordon POHOIWI

16th September 1963—23rd April 2016

Heikonāmai - Goodbye for now