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Many generations ago, while some of the ancestors of the Ngatiawa tribe were preparing a repast of fernroot at Whakatane for a stranger named Taukata, he showed them some kumaras. They asked him where he got them, and if they were good for food. He replied that they from Hawaiki, and were their main sustenance ; and that, if they would make him a canoe, lie was quite willing to take them to his island for the purpose of bringing bade some seed to New Zealand.

They complied with his request, and named the canoe “To Aratawhao,” and started under the guidance of Toroa and Tamakihikurangi. Taukata remained behind, but told them the direction in which to steer, with orders to dig the kumaras from a hill called Parinuitera, and not to take them from near the seabeach. Also to take precaution to prevent pakura (water hens) or rats getting on board.

On their arrival at Hawaiki it was found that “Te Aratawhao” was too small to bring a cargo. Consequently they were obliged to make another canoe, which they called “ Matatua,” which was accordingly laden with kumaras ; but they quite forgot the caution about the pakura and rats, hence the first introduction of these to New Zealand.

“Matatua” left in company with a canoe named “Te Arawa,” which was commanded by Ngatoroirangi. The crew of“TeArawa” were on. the same mission—namely, to get kumaras ; but the two canoes had not left New Zealand together. They parted company, and “ Matatua ” landed at Whakatane, where the Nagatiawapah now stands. Immediate’y the canoe reached the Whakatane shore, the natives in the stem of the canoe jumped out and went inland, and subsequently made their way to Taranaki, where their descendants still live, and retain the name of Ngatiawa. Those in the stern of the canoe did not land at once ; but, when they did they settled there and then on the spot, and so named themselves Ngatiawa proper, while they called the deserters “ Te Roro Ngatiawa” (wanderers). Those who remained at Whakatane are the ancestors of Ngatiawa, Ngaiterangi, Urewera, Whakatohea, Whanauapanui, and other tribes. The “ Matatua” was dragged to the spot where the Ngatiawa pah now stands. Here she was left to decay, and years after two trees grew up. One was a puriri, which was afterwards cut down by the Ngapuhi tribe when they made a raid on Whakatane ; the other was a rata, which was called “ Te-Puhi-o-Mata-tua,” and was destroyed by the troops under Colonel Fraser in 1867. Taukata did not benefit much by his charitable action in giving information about the kumaras, for the residents of his island gave instructions to kill Taukata as soon as the kumaras came up, or else the gods (under his influence) would bewitch their crop, and km .Id neve, grow in their land : r jd

an opportunity, .and cruelly ' Min in a kumara pit.

The idea of the house .first originated with Hahaia Matateliokia, chief ot the Ngatipukeko tribe, who consulted with Wepiha Apanui and and with Major Mair. The letter was left in abeyance for about two years, when the whole tribe took up the matter, and decided to build a house and represent all their ancestors in it. Another object in building this house was to reconcile the tribes Ngatiawa and Urewera, between whom there existed much ill-feeling in c msequence of murders perpetrated by the latter tribe during the war. The. house was completed in 1874. In March, 1875, it was opened by the late Sir Donald M‘Lean with great demonstrations, in the presence of many hundreds of Native and European visitors. The image on each post represents the ancestor of some tribe or sub-tribe. The principal one is Toi, from whom the whole native race is supposed to have sprung; his figure is carved on the bottom of the middle post, in company with Awa and Toroa. The front pole represents the figure of Kahungunul, anancestor of the Hawke’s Bay natives, Rongowhakaata, ancestor of the Poverty Bay natives, and Te Whatuiapiti, another ancestor of the Hawke’s Bay natives. The small image represents To Ngarara, who was killed many years ago while trading off Whale Island. The second small image represents Te Maitaranui, grandfather of Wepiha Apanui, and of Mr Faloon, who was murdered at Whakatane some years ago. The carving on the ridge-pole in front of the house represents Ruamoana and Materehe, ancestors of Ngatipukeko tribe ; also Awatopo, a god. - The image on top of the ridge-pole represents Mokera, father of Apanui. The twin images on the right hand of the porch represents Taitimuroa and Wahahamama, ancestors of the Patuai tribe. The twin images on the left of the building represent Tarakiuta and Tarakitai; these twins were boys belonging to the Rongowhakaata tribe. Tupurupuru, a chief of Poverty Bay, was by right entitled to the first of the preserved birds —in fact, to a royalty on all birds killed in Poverty Bay ; but, on these twins reaching maturity, he would lose it,' as they were from an elder branch of the family. He therefore determined to got rid of them, and accordingly dug a deep pit across a road where the twins where in the habit of spinning tops. One day he sent them out to play, and so they fell into the pit prepared for them, and were killed. The footboard across the front of the porch represents Oniawa, ancestor of the Ngatiawa, and the image on it was carved by a Fijian named Kune, in honor of Thakobau, of Fiji. The posts on the right of the house represent Kiore, Paraheka, Taha, Pakaho, and Hikapehiwai ancestors of the Ngatiawa ; Te Dakahotaiaro, ancestor of the Te Kaha natives; Te Imuwhakapuru, ancestor of Ngatipukeko ; Tuteao and Eangihouhiri ancestors of the Ngatiawa; Hikareia, father of Hori

Tupaea, chief of Tanranga; Te Bang! Kawehea, ancestor of the chief Bangitukehu, of Bangitaiki ; and Matekitatahi, ancestor of the Whanauapanui tribe. The posts on the left side represent To Bangitumau and Tamaruarangi, ancestors of Ngatiawa; and Te Harawaka, ancestor of Te Whanauapanui. The mermaid is called m ‘ Te Malguasri,” after Sir Donald M'Lean. The posts represent Waikapuku, Te Tawha, Pirauwhenua, and Tamawhiro, ancestors of the Ngatiawa; Apanui, ancestor of the Whanuapanui tribe : Te Hukitu, ancestor of Ngatirangi; Te Kama-ii-Pakui, Tahakaioro, and Umutaha, ancestors of the Ngatiawa. On the inside of the porch the figures represent Iratumoana, Whetenui and Kohi, ancestors of Ngatiawa. All these ancestors are descendants of the crew of “ Matatua.” The Taranaki Ngatiawa are not represented in the House, as they were supposed'to have left their shipmates, and had no further communication with them. Thej descendants of the crew of appear to have kept themselves distinct from the crew of “ Te Arawa,” although living within a few miles of one another.

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Bibliographic details

HISTORY OF THE CARVED HOUSE “MATATUA.”, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 11, 21 October 1879

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HISTORY OF THE CARVED HOUSE “MATATUA.” Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 11, 21 October 1879

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