Pukemiro opening enjoyed by all

At four o'clock on a Monday morning, the Pukemiro kura kaupapa was opened in traditional fashion with conch shells blaring, customary prayers, haka, waiata and hundreds of young and old trudging through the brand new facilities.

All of the main buildings are named after Northern tupuna. Muriwhenua and Waimirirangi, founding woman ancestors of all northern tribes.

Tamatea, captain of the famous ocean going waka Takitimu.

Kupe known throughout Polynesia as the ancient, peerless navigator who landed in and left from Hokianga Harbour.

Ueoneone, the Hokianga ancestor who enticed two beauties from Tainui, Reitu and Reipae, to the North.

Tumoana, Kahutianui and their descendants Patito and Moroki of the Tinana waka which was sailed back to Hawaiiki and finally returned to Taipa.

Tohe, from Ngti Kaha of Spirits Bay, whose name is linked to scores of place names, including the 90 Mile Beach, Te Oneroa a Tohe, Northlands iconic beach which Te Houtaewa, from Te Kao, sprinted down to make mischief with his relatives in Ahipara.

Hekenukumai Busby, the ocean-voyaging tohunga perfomed the kawa ceremonial prayer to open the school meeting house. A rare sight given such customary practices have been vitually lost in the Far North.

Speakers were not in short supply as the various orators sought to outdo each other with geneaology, wit and song. The speaker of the event was without doubt Ross Gregory, of Pukepoto, who recited whakapapa to link all of the ancestors to each other and down to the children likely to attend the school.

It was a rare display of oratory and much appreciated, although he did observe that the Ngi Takoto tribe seemed to have been left out of the ancestral names.

Nau Epiha, who brought a group of schoolchildren from Matauri Bay reminded everyone that his tupuna had welcomed Samuel Marsden in 1814. He said commemoration planning was underway for 2014 at Oihi, Bay of Islands.

Other speakers jested in return that the local hapu were too busy trying to get their land back that Marsden's missionaries grabbed.

Pa Henare Tate, from Panguru, spoke about the importance of achieving excellence in education from a Mori perspective. Other speakers expressed with mock concern that the Pope was moving on and Pa Tate might be poached.

MPs Shane Jones and Hone Harawira were present and both spoke, observing that after Ross Gregory had recited whakapapa for 30 minutes there was very little left to say. Although Mr Jones told Ross Gregory that if Ngi Takoto had not been too sleepy and their chief, Mangu Awarau, had been awake their ancestors name might have found a home on the school buildings!

Hone Harawira reminded everyone how important kura kaupapa are to language and identity. He encouraged the school to give fresh meaning to the name Pukemiro, the pa of the kukupa feeding on miro tree by planting and tending many natives.

- Northland Age

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