Web Banner Tairawhiti

History of urupa to be revealed

18 Oct 2020

History of urupa to be revealed

A karakia was held on Monday morning before work started on the upgrade of the cemetery on Hirini Street.

The urupa is located on the previous site of Te Poho-o-Rāwiri Marae and has cultural and historical significance to the Tairāwhiti area, especially to Ngāti Oneone.

Hirini Te Kani-a-Takirau, who is buried at the urupa, built Te Poho-o-Rawiri as a Whare Whakamaumaharatanga (memorial house) to memorialise his father Rawiri (Te Eke Tu O Te Rangi). Rawiri was tuakana (older cousin) to Te Kani-a-Takirau, paramount chief of te Tairāwhiti.  

When Te Kani-a-Takirau lost his son Te Waikari, Rawiri gave his son Hirini, to Te Kani-a-Takirau, his teina (younger cousin), to raise.  On the death of Te Kani-a-Takirau, Hirini took over the mantle of his pāpā whāngai (adopted father).

June Tangohau and Charlotte Gibson (photo) are direct descendants of Hirini.

Council and Ngāti Oneone have worked closely to prepare for the upgrade, which involves clearing the large trees and vegetation and the development of a storyboard which outlines the significance of the urupa and those who lie within.

Journeys capital manager Darren Cox looks forward to the project sharing the stories of the area’s history and improving safety.

“This is an exciting project for our community which will enrich our understanding and appreciation of the history of this area,” he said.

“The upgrade will also improve visibility into the urupa and safety for cyclists, pedestrians and oncoming traffic.”

The work is part of the $4.5m Provincial Growth Fund upgrade of Rakaiatane Road, which is in its final stages of completion.