Thinking of Mother's Day today, and how that takes me back through the narrative history of my family. How much of that history is able to be found in patches, often intersecting patches. And how many spaces there are in between.
honour of Mother’s day I wish to pay tribute all the way back to my
grandmother’s great-grandmother Tiraha Papa Harakeke, 1808-1885.
Tuhourangi at Motutawa Island on the encouragement of Te Rauparaha, who
wanted revenge for a relative lost during Ngapuhi's capture of Te
Totara pa. Ngapuhi chief, Hongi Hika had a patu made to avenge his
death, and attacked Te Arawa at the height of the musket wars,
instigated by Hongi and a tragic time for Maori, but the patu was not
used. In 1933 Sir Apirana Ngata presented the patu, known as
Papaharakeke, to Te Arawa as a tohu (token of friendship) from Ngapuhi.
The patu is owned by the Arawa trustboard, and for 70 years was held in
the Auckland Museum. In 2007, I believe, it was returned to Rotorua.
Tiraha married English Battle of Waterloo veteran, later carpenter, and
then whaler, William Cook in a Christian ceremony at Paihia 13th March,
1848, though they had been together for many years as a couple and
already had ten children.
They would have twelve in all.
was conducted by Te Wiremu (Rev. Henry Williams) he of the controversial
translation of the Treaty of Waitangi. A prayerbook given to the couple
after their wedding is now in the Russell Museum, as is this photograph
of Tiraha. Tiraha passed away 1st September,1885, and is buried
somewhere in the Russell churchyard, as is Tamati Waka Nene.
Unfortunately, Tiraha’s grave, though it is entered in the parish
registry, is unmarked. William Cook had died at Waikare in 1874. One of
their sons, George Howe Cook was born on a whaling brig – the
Independence. The Cook family of Whangamumu became famous as whalers,
before finally ceasing operations in 1931.
This tribute speaks
through my mother, Alice June Martha Maitu,1928-1995, and my
grandmother, Hannah, 1901-1994. It also honours Hannah's mother - Ada -
and Ada's mother - Martha, and all the wahine toa in my whanau's
history. And finally, all due respect to the descendents of the many
tupuna noted in this post.
The patu - Papaharakeke. (Te Arawa Trustboard)