Three wise men cel­e­brated

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - TERESA HAT­TAN

Ro­tary Mata­mata couldn’t let such an im­por­tant mile­stone pass with­out part­ing with a lit­tle wis­dom.

We all know of the three wise men of Beth­le­hem, but what do we know of the three wise men of Mata­mata?, Lynette Stan­ley asked her fel­low Ro­tar­i­ans ear­lier this month.

Three of Ro­tary’s own wise men played the roles of the im­por­tant char­ac­ters in Mata­mata’s history at a spe­cial Ro­tary meet­ing on De­cem­ber 1.

Don Stan­ley, Ross Bay and Barry Mckey all re­searched their char­ac­ters of Wiremu Tami­hana, Josiah Firth and the Rev­erend Al­fred Brown and pre­sented them in the first per­son, which cul­mi­nated in a short skit writ­ten by Richard Prevett.

It was 150 years ago this De­cem­ber when Josiah Firth, an Auck­land flour miller and en­tre­pre­neur, ne­go­ti­ated a deal for land that was to be­come Mata­mata.

The deal was struck with Tara­pipi, the son of fa­mous Ngati Haua chief Te Wa­haroa. Tara­pipi was bap­tised as Wiremu Tami­hana by Rev­erend Brown in 1839.

Tami­hana be­came known for his or­a­tory skills and Chris­tian be­liefs. Firth first vis­ited the Mata­mata plains in 1859 and soon re­alised the area could be prof­itable. More than 50,000 acres of land, in­clud­ing the fu­ture site of Mata­mata, was leased to Firth in 1865.

‘‘Let Hohaia have the land,’’ Tami­hana re­port­edly said. Tami­hana died a year af­ter the lease was ne­go­ti­ated.

On his deathbed he asked of Firth: ‘‘Do not leave me, con­tinue to be a friend of my peo­ple.’’

Tami­hana has since been la­belled by the New Zealand Her­ald as one of the great­est New Zealan­ders over the past 150 years.

‘‘There is some­thing very sad in the death of this pa­tri­otic chief, a man of clear straight for­ward views.

‘‘Sad that such a man, who pos­sessed such an in­flu­ence for good, should thus be ig­nored by gov­ern­ment, when by his aid, had he been ad­mit­ted to our coun­cils, a per­ma­nent good feel­ing might have been es­tab­lished be­tween the two races,’’ a min­is­ter of the crown said af­ter Tami­hana’s death.

PHOTO: TERESA HAT­TAN

Three Ro­tar­i­ans played the roles of three wise Mata­mata men. From left, Ross Bay as Josiah Clifton Firth, Don Stan­ley as Wiremu Tami­hana Tara­pipi Te Wa­haroa and Barry Mckey as the Rev­erend Al­fred Nis­bett Brown.

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