Eastern Bay commemorations go national

Te Kupenga a Taramainuku Pa commemoration will be held in Te Teko. Supplied photo.

An event which began as a small local commemoration held annually in an Eastern Bay community, will be recognized as a significant national event during this years’ ceremony.

Te Kupenga a Taramainuku Pa commemoration is an event run by Te Kupenga Heritage Committee for the people of Ngati Awa in Te Teko each year at Te Kupenga Pa.

Te Kupenga Heritage Committee is a working committee of the Te Teko Community Development Trust and is a grass roots local initiative arising from the various commemorative events held in 2013-2015 to acknowledge the New Zealand/Maori wars of the 1860s.

Te Kupenga was a pre-European settlement of the hapu of Ngati Awa and in its prime was a social, political and economic hub of the lower-Rangitaiki region along with other important pa.

 In September 1865 Crown forces and their loyalist allies invaded the rohe of Ngati Awa and eventually laid siege to Te Kupenga in pursuit of Ngati Awa tribes involved in the death of James

The events ultimately led to the confiscation of a large part of the tribal rohe, the effects of which are still felt by many Ngati Awa communities to this day.

The commemorations are being celebrated this year in Te Teko on October 20.

A spokesperson for the event, Larni Hepi says this year the event will be bigger than ever.

“This event has grown incredibly over the last three years,” says Larni.

“Last year the event attracted 2000 people and there is the possibility that even more people will attend this year with the combination of Ngati Awa Te Toki also taking place that weekend.”

At the conclusion of last years’ commemoration the event was declared a significant national event by the National Commemorations Committee, a division within Parliament who plan and manage commemorative events, says Larni.

“It’s gone from being a local commemorative service to a national commemorative service that is quite widely known and because of this they are expecting a lot more people than previous years.”

“We expect more than 5000 will attend.”

Larni says the event attracts a wide range of people not only from Ngati Awa but from around the nation.

“In terms of the people who attend, it’s quite across the board there’s a lot of whanau coming from across the country to take part in the day; families, young people and everyone across New Zealand.

“This year we’re expecting a lot of primary schools and kohanga reo, but also iwi across the country including Tauranga Moana and Taranaki who also hold significant commemorative events in their history.”

In the lead up last years’ commemoration, Te Kura Wananga o Te Kupenga a Taramainuku was formed to nurture traditional teachings, including mau rakau, waiata, haka, korero o nehera, karakia, amongst the tamariki, and pakeke of Ngati Awa.

Te Kura Wananga have continued to hold week-long and weekly mau rakau and haka pohiri practices in Te Teko this year, in preparation for the 152nd Commemoration.

Their aim is to restore the community’s awareness of their history, culture and heritage in re-educating the future generations of whanau and hapu about their ancestral knowledge and values, which they believe will enable them to restore a crucial piece of Ngati Awa identity and heritage.

“This event is purely about educating people in the community about this event and its place in iwi Ngati Awa’s history, which is an important history, considering the massive divide it caused across the iwi.

“It’s a really good history lesson for everyone in Ngati Awa and Te Teko about what took place.

“The committee have received a lot of support from the community, iwi, various supporters and funders so it will go on as long as it keeps on going on for.”

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