The original whare tupuna stood at Aotearoa-Wharepūhunga and was burnt to ashes in a scrub fire.
The second Takihiku was built down the line at Kōputaroa (carved by Hokowhitu McGregor who had been under the apprentieship of Huhi Takarei and Ngapu while carving Hoturoa (1888) our whare tupuna at Aotearoa). Sadly it was neglected and fell into disrepair.
The current Takihiku at Rāwhitiroa-Owairaka was carved primarily by Te Motu Heta who had apparently also been under the same tutelage as Hokowhitu. Initially Takihiku was to be built below Tūtūhīnau, where the old Tunoho homestead stood, but because of the prolonged debate over location, Marerahi Paraone saw to it being built at Rāwhitiroa, where Marerahi had lived since the late 1800’s after moving from Aotearoa with his elder brother, Kohipō Paraone and a younger brother Rangiwawahia to fence the whenua. One of Marerahi’s daughters, Waiarani wed Te Wharetakaanui Heta, brother of Te Motu Heta.
Ngā Pou The rākau for Takihiku were dragged from the ngāhere at Wharepūhunga and the house was originally going to be bigger but the tree that was to form the tāhūhū broke – this was seen as a sign to keep the whare ‘humble’ and for the reverence to remain with Hoturoa to hold.
Takihiku is carved in the Raukawa style of the Aotearoa/Wharepūhunga carving school that feature large eyes and an almost totem-pole like appearance as defining characteristics. What’s more are the five fingered figures which are said to represent a prophecy about the Kīngitanga. This is also significant of Hoturoa and other houses of this style.
1929 saw the opening of our whare graced by the presence of Kīngi Te Rata. Te Uira (Pita Manaia’s mother) was the puhi for the ceremony. Before then the only whare at Rāwhitiroa was the kāuta which dates back to the 1880’s.
One of the two Taniwha depicted on our Pou-haki (flag-pole) is the famed taniwha Peketahi, kaitiaki of our awa Puniu. From the starting of the awa at the foot-hills close to Wharepūhunga all the way to where the Puniu flows into Waipā, is his domain. The mauri of the awa is in his care, as are the tuna, who are also his pononga or servants. Some of us acknowledge Peketahi’s mana when taking tuna from our awa for kai; asking Peketahi for permission to fish for them and for him to bless us with a good catch. There are differing kōrero about Peketahi. In one story he is described as an ariki of all taniwha, who live beneath the earth in a subterranean world. According to our kaumātua, Peketahi’s home is where the Owairaka stream meets Puniu.
Our road, intersecting here the old Māori track, came all at once to the edge of a boldly-scarped cliff, curving round in a great cirque of dark-grey rhyolite rock, which in places is scooped out in shallow caves. Just in the elbow of the valley, the Mangakomua, and close to the summit where we pulled up, there lifted from a ferny cushion of a mound a huge monumental rock, shaped not unlike a gigantic tooth, its surface almost bare except for the tufts of manuka on its very top, and chiselled and fashioned by the fires of long ago and the play of ages of weather. It was about 80 feet in height, a monolith in rhyolite, reminding one of the great rock pillar which the Maoris call Hinemoa, at the foot of Horohoro Mountain. The fern furred its foot; on its lightning-shattered pinnacle, where the sparse bushes grew like hairs, a hawk was perched, on meal-watch intent. So strange and imagination-quickening a rock must have its halo of folk-lore, and this is the story of Tokahaere as told by my friend of Ngati-Raukawa:
TokahaereLong ago this rock Tokahaere was a human being; he was a man of this world and his home was at Titi-raupenga, that sharp-topped mountain which stands southward yonder, not far from the north-west side of Lake Taupo. (“A famous mountain that; it was a great place for birds—tui, korimako, kaka parrot, and koko or wood pigeon; all these we used to snare and spear there in great numbers and pot in their own fat, in totara-bark baskets.”) This man had a wife, and she was a most troublesome one. She had love affairs with the gallants of the tribe, she talked a great deal, and it was even said that she beat her husband. The husband, instead of silencing her with his stone club, as of course he should have done, decided to leave her. He set out to travel far away to the northward, to seek another home and a more pleasant wife. He travelled by night, and having supernatural means to aid him, he reached this Aotearoa country by dawn. But his wife’s vengeance pursued him. She induced a powerful tohunga to bewitch her husband and the spell fell just when he reached this Manga-komua valley and he was turned to stone.
There is another story, that being a man of extraordinary powers he scooped out this deep gorge-like valley as he came. But daylight broke his magic powers, and then the mighty charms of the tohunga at Titi-raupenga prevailed, and he remained fixed here for ever. Kua whakakohatutia—he was transformed to a rock.So there stands Tokahaere to-day, his mountainous feet sunk in the Maori fern; a landmark and a wonder for ever to pakeha and Maori. And it is well that the pakeha should learn, before yet the old tales vanish, of the special mana tapu which invisibly blankets lonely Tokahaere. Though petrified, he has specific magic powers remaining. If you wish to avoid heavy rain or other obstruction or inconvenience on your day’s journey, you must pay due respect to Tokahaere by pulling a handful of fern or manuka and laying it at his foot, reciting as you do so this ancient prayer to the spirit of the rock:Ana to kai na, Mau e kai te manawa o tauhou.
(Behold thy food; Feed thou on the heart of the stranger.) That is the ceremony of uruuru-whenua, the propitiation of the abiding spirit of that toka-tipua, the enchanted rock.We did not neglect that rite. Our tributes of fern were laid at the huge fire-sculptured foot of Tokahaere, the karakia was recited; and the sun shone brightly for us all that long day’s ride through the wide and fenceless Maori prairie.
One of the most renowned histories about Te Ao Katoa pertains to the Kīngitanga. Tawhiao, the second Māori King, sought out Te Ao Katoa to manifest a sacred symbol as a coat of arms for the Kīngitanga. Te Ao Katoa was quite reluctant, but in the end agreed. Tiwai Paraone, a tohunga of Hauraki, also had a hand in the creation of this tohu. The sacred ensign became known as Te Paki o Matariki, and is still used as the official standard of the Kīngitanga. Te Ao Katoa’s portrait was painted in his latter years by the famous artist, Gottfried Lindauer, apparently, our tohunga was going blind at the time. The painting adorned the walls of various kāinga in Ōwairaka, and it was latter taken to hang inside our whare tupuna, Takihiku. There are conflicting stories regarding the gifting of the painting to the late Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu. Some say Henare Tuwhangai asked for it on her behalf, and others say Te Wharetakaanui (Dick) Heta, just outright entrusted it to Te Arikinui. One thing is for sure, when Henare Tuwhangai completed his karakia, some of the Waikato entourage, on his instruction, attempted to remove the painting from the wall in Takihiku, however, it would not budge. After much thought, Henare sent for some of the koro’s of the hau kāinga, who were round the back. There was no hitch, and Te Ao Katoa came down quite easily into the hands of his mokopuna. After much tangi and poroporoaki from our people, Te Ao Katoa was taken to hang inside Mahinaarangi, above the main whatitoka (door), which happens to be embellished with his design, Te Paki o Matariki. (picture below)
Te Paki-o-Matariki (the fine weather of Matariki) is the coat of arms of the King movement. It was designed by Tīwai Parāone of Hauraki and Te Aokatoa of Waikato and Ngāti Raukawa. The central double helix represents the creation of the world. On the left is the figure of Aitua (misfortune) and on the right, Te Atuatanga (spirituality). The stars above are the Pleiades, and a Christian cross can also be seen. This carving of the coat of arms is on the door to Māhinārangi meeting house at Tūrangawaewae marae, Ngāruawāhia.
Cowan, J. (1925). Fairy Folk Tales of the Maori. Whitcombe and Tombes Limited. Accessed from: New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZeTC) on 27/04/2009.