One of the biggest celebrations South Taranaki has seen is happening next week for the 115th anniversary of the founding of the Pariroa Pa at Kakaramea.
Prime Minister John Key and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia will be among the guests, along with kaumatua and leaders of 10 Taranaki iwi, Mayor Ross Dunlop and MP Chester Borrows.
The event is also a tribute to the pa’s founding rangatira Tutange Waionui, who fought alongside Titokowaru and claimed to have fired the bullet that killed the flamboyant Prussian mercenary Major Gustav Von Tempsky at Te Ngutu o te Manu in 1868. Waionui was the model for crouching warrior with taiaha used on the New Zealand one shilling coin.
One of the organisers, Hemi Ngarewa, says up to 600 people are expected and it will be a challenge to cater for them. “I have been in this area for over 60 years and if it’s fine weather this will be the biggest event I will have encountered in terms of numbers, possibly in the whole of South Taranaki,” he says. “We have invited 600 and we have 200 acceptances with still a week to go. I know from experience that our people will just turn up by the carload.”
A foundation stone will be unveiled by Tama Maruera, a descendant of the founder and 150 white balloons will be released as a symbol of unity and peace. There will be entertainment by eight groups, including the Patea Maori Club. “We are celebrating 115 years of history since our rangatira and founder came across the river from Hukatere and settled with his wife Ngaati at Pariroa in 1894. They could have as many as 2000 descendants,” Mr Ngarewa said.
“We have an adequate budget and enough food, but we can only fit 250 in our big dining room, about 100 in our old meeting house and about another 100 in tents.” Iwi represented will include Pakakohe and Tangahoe which he said were not officially recognised as Taranaki iwi.
The marae is on Pariroa Rd, off Wilson Rd. Mr Ngarewa said traffic safety marshals would be stationed on the narrow metal no-exit road which has a difficult, unsignalled railway crossing. “We will also need direction signs because many people do not know this marae,” he said.
Vehicle entry will be limited to workers, the disabled and elderly and VIPs. Parking will be in a paddock nearby.
Note: Up to 600 people, including Prime Minister John Key, are expected to attend the anniversary which will go from 11am to 3pm.