It was a day of celebration for the people of Rangitukia when the St John’s whare karakia was reopened on Easter Sunday after several years of renovations. But the celebrations go back much further and deeper, all the way back to 1834…
Easter Sunday 2014 marked a number of major milestones for Te Hahi Mihinare (the Maori Anglican Church) in Te Riu o Waiapu. Firstly, the church of Hoani Tapu (St Johns) at Rangitukia was reopened after being closed for several years for renovations. The renovations had been a labour of love, led by the late Reverend Tipuna (Nunu) Tangaere, Reverend Te Oraiti (Dot) Manuel, Reverend Brent Swann and the whole church whanau in Rangitukia.
The day was beautiful with the rededication led by Archbishop Paraone Turei who shared his stories of growing up at Rangitukia and going to church as a child. Another highlight was the moving celebration of the life of Papa Nunu led by his mokopuna Trevney, alog with the beautiful cake made by another of his mokopuna.
But 2014 also marks 180 years since Christianity was first bought to Ngāti Porou by Piripi Taumataakura, who returned from captivity in Ngapuhi to spread this new message of peace and love. Taumataakura had a huge influence on the iwi as his new message spread.
In the 1860s the first Ngati Porou were ordained, Raniera Kawhia followed by Hare Tawha and Mohi Turei, the latter two of whom had originally been trained at Te Tapere-Nui-a-Whatonga, the ancient school of learning.
On his ordination in 1864 Mohi Turei became the first minita of Waiapu Pariha, taking care of the spiritual needs of the hapu in the northern part of Te Riu o Waiapu. Waiapu Pariha was the third pariha or parish to be established by hapu of Ngati Porou, after Tokomaru Pariha had been established under the leadership of Henare Potae and Reverend Matiaha Pahewa in 1863, and HIkurangi Pariha established in 1860 by Rapata Wahawaha and Reverend Raniera Kawhia.
So this year marks 150 years since the foundation of Waipua Pariha and the ordination of Mohi Turei. Mohi would spend the rest of his life working to meet the spiritual needs of the people, composing haka, carving whakairo, leading karakia and recording iwi histories.
Mohi was followed by Reverend Poihipi Kohere who served the people from 1906 until 1958 – one of the longest serving minita in the history of the Haahi. There have been many other minita since then, some of whom are remembered on the bell tower outside the whare karakia at Rangitukia.
So the reopening and rededication of the Church was one of a series of celebrations this year, and marked another milestone in the long faith journey of the people of Te Riu o Waiapu, and of Ngati Porou.