Te Arawa delegation to visit German wharenui

By Sonya Bateson

A historic Rotorua wharenui that survived heavy bombing through two world wars in Germany will be visited by a delegation of Te Arawa people.

Rauru, a wharenui (meeting house) carved by famous craftsman Tene Waitere, was shipped from Whakarewarewa in the early 1900s and re-erected in Hamburg, Germany in 1912.

A group of Te Arawa people, including descendants of Waitere, kapa haka groups Ngati Tarawhai and Te Mataarae i Orehu, and Te Arawa kaumatua are travelling to Hamburg to take part in a dawn ceremony commemorating 100 years since Rauru's move, leaving today.

It now stands inside the Museum fur Voelkerkunde, in one of the few buildings in that area to survive bombing in the two world wars.

Delegation leader Mauriora Kingi said celebrating the 100 years of Rauru standing in Hamburg was important to him and to others from Whakarewarewa.

"Rauru used to stand in Whakarewarewa. It is important for us who are from Whaka to celebrate its 100 years. For us, it's respecting our ancestors and the descendants of Rauru.

"It will probably never come home because it was sold. The people over there look after it really well - if it came home, we would be fighting over where we would put it."

Mr Kingi said the dawn ceremony would take place on October 7 and the New Zealand government, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, would be welcomed to the celebrations on October 8.

He said that during the group's travels, they would also visit other overseas Te Arawa whare, including Hinemihi in Clandon Park, England, and a model house that used to sit in the Government Gardens and now resides in the German city of Stuttgart, both also carved by Waitere.

While in England, Mr Kingi said the group would visit the grave of Makereti, also known as Maggie Papakura, a Whakarewarewa guide, in Oddington Cemetery, and the University of Cambridge which houses a lot of Te Arawa taonga.

The celebration has been organised with the help of Museum fur Voelkerkunde director Wulf Koepke, who visited Rotorua for the moving of Pukaki to the Rotorua Museum.

Mr Kingi said the delegation would also take part in the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest fair of its kind in the world where New Zealand has been named this year's guest of honour.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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