Saturday, April 20, 2024
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POU WHENUA are carved wooden posts placed on the land in places of significance to indicate tribal boundaries and/or to represent important tribal ancestors.

The wharenui of most marae will incorporate at least one pou whenua, some of these might be very old and some might be relatively new, each demonstrating the art of a master carver. Some are quite simple and others more intricate. A fine example of a recent intricate pou whenua stands at Tieke kainga in the Whanganui National Park, one of the few marae located in one of our National Parks

(visit:-  ).

During the period of the land wars of the 1860s pou whenua were erected to indicate the land of those Iwi which were under the protection of Potatau and the Kingitanga movement and opposing the activities of the Native Land Court. These lands were in what became known as the King Country.

More recently various Local Authorities have erected pou whenua in public places to acknowledge the former Māori owners of land now under their control after agreeing the details with the relevant Iwi or hapu. For example the Auckland Council has erected pou whenua in at least twelve of its parks and reserves as well as others in public places.

At Achilles Point in Auckland, which commemorates the role played by H.M.N.Z.S Achilles in the sinking of the Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate, the Council has installed a group of three pou whenua (see photos). These represent: Hoturoa, the Commander of the Tainui waka which stopped briefly near here before proceeding up the Tamaki River to the Otahuhu portage, (and from whom the writer is descended), Taikehu, ancestor of Ngai Tai who left the Tainui waka here and married a local woman, and Horoiwi, who also left the Tainui waka and settled in the vicinity. The Māori name for Achilles Point is Te Pane o Horoiwi (The Head of Horoiwi).

Beside the Waikato Expressway pou whenua have been erected which mark the Northern boundary of Waikato Tainui and another good example is at the entrance to Tapapakanga Regional Park on the Western side of the Hauraki Gulf (Tikapa Moana) (see photos).

Nga mihi,