Keeping familial connections alive

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PACKING DOWN: Pupuaruhe half back Riritahi waits for ball to come out of the back of the scrum, while his opposing number Hone Thompson watches on. D5874-033

THIS is whakapapa.

Almost everyone in these photos, except for some notable fill-ins, are related to each other.

Connected through their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers – back beyond the generations to the ancestors of the Te Patuwai subtribe of Ngati Awa.

With origins in Ohiwa Harbour, before migrating to Motiti Island, Te Patuwai roots are now found from Tauranga to Whakatane.

And every year, to ensure they retain those familial connections, Te Patuwai split into two to compete for the Te Turitea trophy in the annual hapu to hapu challenge – one representing the Whakatane component at Pupuaruhe and the others, family who had made Matapihi their home.

The trophy is named in recognition of the yellow pohutukawa, which are endemic on Motiti Island, and was carved by Mita Mari from the Hoete family, who also connect to Te Patuwai.

Te Patuwai descendent Charles Dickson said the challenge was first held in the early 1990s and involved teams from Matapihi, in Tauranga, and Pupuaruhe, in Whakatane, competing in netball and rugby.

Mr Dickson said the first hapu to hapu challenge was held in Matapihi and then the following year, in 1995, at Motiti.

“Since then all games were held in Matapihi as the dynamics of getting everyone back to the island and actually sorting out an area to be turned into a rugby pitch was impossible.

“At last year’s challenge, I mentioned to [Whakatane whanau] Puti Koopu and Wax Ranapia that the whanau from Matapihi were keen for a trip to Whakatane and we saw the fruition of that request on Saturday where the netball was held at Te Kura o Te Paroa and the rugby at Paroa rugby club.”

Mr Dickson said while the odd euchre game and boat race sometimes also featured in the friendly competition, rugby and netball were commonly played by members of the subtribe and so were easy to organise.

“It was started to set up marae rugby and netball between Matapihi and Patuwai first and then to keep the whanau connections strong.”

Mr Dickson said it was good way to keep the connections alive within Te Patuwai.

“My mum, Rosie Dickson nee Aukaha, was born at Motiti island but is from Pupuaruhe too. Her dad and brother and sister and in-laws and iramutu (nieces and nephews) are buried at the boardmill [Pupuaruhe] cemetery.

Apart from that there are other connections between Patuwai and Matapihi – Buster Dickson married Robin Brown (Nuku), Peter Grant married Christine Walker, and many more.”

This year, the team representing the Pupuaruhe side of Te Patuwai won the netball, 45-36, and the rugby, 27-7. They also won the boat race.

Mr Dickson said despite not getting the win and some terrible weather, he still enjoyed the day.

“Although I’m from Matapihi it was awesome to see the taonga go to Patuwai this year. My son played a half for both teams just to show our commitment to both our whanau.”

karla.akuhata@whakatanebeacon.co.nz

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