Honouring the same kind of lineage
‘‘It’s the start of a new era in relations between Maori and Pacific people in Porirua,’’ said Ngati Toa kaumatua Thom Kenny, as he reflected on the historic powhiri which saw the Pacific community officially welcomed to the city.
Mr Kenny said last Wednesday’s auspicious occasion was a longstanding vision of the late kaumatua Te Puoho Katene and Ken Arthur.
‘‘It was something that should have happened a long time ago. It’s a genealogy, we’re all Polynesians living in the Pacific and we’re the same kind of lineage.
‘‘ Now that we have welcomed them onto the marae we’ll have a city that is more inclusive of everybody. The gods were smiling on everyone that day.’’
Porirua deputy mayor Liz Kelly said the Pacific Ministers’ Forum had approached her some time ago wanting to know how to engage more with the Ngati Toa, and the kaumatua has similar sentiments.
‘‘It came 50 years late but it’s never too late. The important part is that this is the way forward for all parties. I thought it was neat. Ngati Toa can take [ the Pacific Island community] under their watchful eye.’’
However, city councillor Litea Ah Hoi challenged the significance of the event and said she did not see the need for a formal welcome.
‘‘As far as I’m concerned, my forefathers fought alongside Maori in those wars and at the end of the day we all came on the same waka and have lived together all these years.
‘‘I see tangata whenua as my relations and you don’t formally welcome your relations into your home. It just seems like a tokenistic gesture to me.’’
Pacific Ministers’ Forum secretary Pastor Teremoana Tauira said the combined strengths of both communities would make things better for Porirua.
‘‘Both peoples have common issues in terms of housing, health, economic situation and crime. I think the next thing we can do is address these issues in Porirua. We can tap into our strengths in Maori and Pacific cultures because we have a lot of commonalities . . .’’ he said. ‘‘The next step is to sit down and have a serious talk about what we can do for our people.’’
One people: A kai wera lays down the challenge to Pacific Island leaders during the powhiri last Wednesday.
Welcome: Porirua’s Tokelauan community perform a dance after they offered gifts of finely woven fans to Ngati Toa.
One land: A kai wera (Maori warrior) raises the Tino Rangatiratanga flag alongside the Ahi Kaa flag of Ngati Toa to welcome Pacific Island leaders onto Takapuwahia Marae.