Porangahau remembers the lost
The community of Porangahau did themselves proud, working together to revive their World War Memorial town hall.
The day before the opening, the community spirit shone through as the Hall Committee members Heather Tutaki, Carol Slingsby, Jan Saunders and David Darby were dressing the tables in red and black, with poppies.
Red harakeke roses made by Roseanne Tahupare were placed throughout the hall and photos of World War I and World War II soldiers from Porangahau positioned on a table. Food for the day was gathered by diving for seafood and produce from local farmers.
In the evening Paul Sciascia and I tested the flag poles that had been stropped to the front bollards, improvising until the local council installed the poles that will stand for many more ceremonies — the final addition to the hall’s outside upgrade design by Nicola Hendersen.
The next day the local Volunteer Fire Service were setting up the outside in their No1s, policeman John Singer in his uniform with a Peace Keepers’ beret and the local women adding the finishing touches to the hall.
Matu Steven was the Master of Ceremonies. As people gathered at 10am, the sound of kaikaranga initiated the beginning of the ceremony and their cries of remembrance of loved ones, our tı¯puna could be felt.
Rangitane Tipene opened with karakia, then family members shared stories of an ancestor who fought in the wars.
Paul Sciascia shared the meaning of his name La Bassee (Belgium) where his great uncle Charles Sciascia was killed in 1917.
I spoke about the signing of the Armistice on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month 1918 and a little history of the Western Front.
I then touched on all the ko¯ rero from each of the respective speakers. The last speaker, who fought in Malaysia, talked of how the fight for them never ended and followed them home.
I talked about PTSD and the effects it has on soldiers, their families and the cycle that past wars may have created and affected lives, whether it be World War I, World War II, Malaysia, or Vietnam.
I also spoke of the two flags — confederated flag of the United Tribes and the New Zealand flag — flying side by side and how the community reflected these two flags by working together to achieve a common cause, demonstrating one community kotahitanga [togetherness].
I had the children who were to read the names of the war heroes after the lowering of the flags. At 11am the flags were lowered followed by two minutes’ silence.
Students from CHB College — Taurito Hutana, Anna Douglas, with Tangaroa Tutaki and Sophie Hunter plus two Flemington School pupils read the names of those who died.
From there everyone moved through the entrance of memories, which was a collective vision by Carol Slingsby, chair of Hall Committee and Susan Higginson.
Then a few more formalities and kai to bring everyone back down to earth and enjoy the day of remembrance.
Thank you Whaea Marina Sciascia (Lady in Red) for the opportunity to share the day with the Porangahau township. It was both an honour and a privilege to tautoko the Porangahau Remembrance Day 2018.
Marina Sciascia, Rangiwhiua Ngatai, Rev Harriet Cutbush, Rev John Flavell and Ahuriri Houkamau who dedicated the foyer, with guest speaker y, Air Vice-Marshal RNZA John Hamilton.
The newly refurbished memorial foyer at Porangahau’s War Memorial Hall.