A gateway to the future
As the city celebrates 150 years, another date has been pushed forward by iwi leaders as worthy of marking.
On July 23, 1864, seven years before the commonly acknowledged founding date of Palmerston North, perhaps the most significant document in the rohe was signed to allow a bicultural gateway to the future.
The deed of sale for Te Ahu a Tu¯ ranga, a 101,000 hectare block of land selling for £12,000, was signed by rangatira of Rangita¯ne to encourage Pa¯keha¯ to settle in the area.
Rangita¯ne paramount chief Te Hirawanui Kaimokopuna and Hoani Meihana te Rangiotu¯ , chief of Nga¯ti Rangitepa¯ia, a hapu¯ of the iwi, were lead signatories of at least 150 members of Rangita¯ne who signed the deed.
Descendent of Te Hirawanui Kaimokopuna, Ruma Karaitiana, said the 150-year anniversary was focused on European settlement of Papaio¯ea, but 1864 was significant to the foundation of the city.
Karaitiana remembered kuia and kauma¯tua telling him all about the amazing tu¯ puna that pushed to build the bicultural kaupapa of the whenua.
‘‘Whether there’s documents or a verbal history there was a willingness to sell.’’
Karaitiana said Rangita¯ne rangatira were doing what they could to encourage people to live in the town, even showing surveyor John Tiffin Stewart the flat area that became the central business district as the best spot to build their homes. ‘‘He had a good relationship with Stewart.
‘‘It’s quite clear [Te Hirawanui] was trying to enable them as much as he could.’’
The aspirations led to other achievements for local Ma¯ori such as the establishment of the marae, Te Marae o Hine, and ongoing relationships with Pa¯keha¯.
Toi Warbrick creatives, Warren and Virginia Warbrick, have sent out cards across the city to celebrate the key date for Papaio¯ea this year.
Warren Warbrick, of Rangita¯ne descent, said they wanted to spark curiosity about the past of Palmerston North’s rohe.
‘‘All we’re really trying to do is make this known. It’s not really thought about any more and it’s a milestone for this area.’’