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Te Haerenga ki Koukourarata

Jun 30, 2021


On Friday 25th June, PARS was represented by Board Chair Hurimoana Dennis, CEO Tui Ah Loo, and Accommodation Coordinator Tui Gallagher, at the pōhiri of Rewakura (Rachael) Ngatai, as she began her next journey as Kaituki o te Rūnanga o Koukourarata. 

The weather on arrival at Christchurch set the tone. There was the expected Southern chill, and the sun was shining.

We three traveled from Christchurch to Lyttleton to meet the rest of the roopu at 1.00 pm. The entire roopu was made up of her immediate whānau, and her kaumātua and kuia from Ngāi Te Rangi, Tauranga Moana. It takes someone extra special to gather a group of rangatira of this calibre, and we know Rachael to be this person. We were soon joined by our friends from Christchurch PARS, Amy and Helen, and PARS’ Finance Manager, Russell du Plessis.

There was an hour-and-a-half trek out to Koukourarata for a 3.00 pm pōhiri. 

Upon arrival, the first tohu that Rachael was where she is supposed to be, was the name of the Wharenui, Tūtehuarewa. Rewakura, the name of her Kuia, and her name, a tohu picked up by both Tuis. 

There was beautiful kōrero, lots of tears, and a room full of aroha for our dear friend. 

We were then taken through to the whare kai, Te Pātaka o Huikai. The banquet of kai before us was fit for kings and queens, with all the kaimoana gathered locally from the protected inlet of Koukourarata. 

As the night dropped upon us, the sky was clear, and kōrero was as sweet as the kai we had been served. 

The mattresses were set up, with the kaumātua and kuia given proper beds to rest upon. The level of manaakitanga bestowed upon us was outstanding. 

The next morning, as we continued with our whanaungatanga over breakfast and then bid farewell to the Tauranga Moana roopu, there were more tears. 

Our Auckland roopu did a tidy-up and readied ourselves for a haerenga around the Takiwa, led by Graeme Page, previous CEO of Auckland PARS, and tangata whenua o Koukourarata. We headed over the hill, aka goat track, to the Peninsula looking out to the ocean, then back over another hill, aka goat track, aka State Highway 3 to Pigeon Bay across to Akaroa, out the point to where Ōnuku marae sits amid more pristine surroundings, around to Little River and then past another tohu, Lake Wairewa, then Teddington, Charteris Bay, Diamond Harbour and back to Koukourarata.

The name Rewa has significance in this takiwā, and we were honored to be given a glimpse of the region she will now work in.

On our last morning as the sun cast a slight shimmer on the Harbour and the moon slowly set, as Hinepukohorangi sat for a while on the puke across from the marae, the realisation that Rachael wasn’t coming back with us to Tāmaki started to set in. 

She had found another kāinga, another place to make her mark. As we did our poroporoaki, and shed more tears, this was the most difficult part. 

Te wehenga, kua heke ngā roimata, ka mamae te ngākau, engari hari koa hoki mātou.

We had brought down Rachael Ngatai, and we were leaving them Rewakura. 

She has found her dream job in an idyllic spot, under the tutelage of Dr. Matiu Payne, an esteemed orator and learned leader who will guide her on the next part of her journey.

Tangata ako ana i te kaēnga, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana!

A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society.