The History of the Poupou for Mangatowai

When three little totara seeds germinated in the Utakura Forest last century they would have never realized the important part they would eventually play in the history of Tai Tokerau.

If they had listened to the hau (wind) whispering through the leaves of the forest giants clustered around them they would have known that they were growing in historic ground, alongside the track trod by the ancestors of the Utakura and Hokianga as they made their way to Waitangi in the region known as Ipipiri (the Bay of Islands) to sign the founding document of New Zealand Ė the Treaty of Waitangi.†††††††††††††††

About 40 chiefs signed the treaty on 6 February 1840 and among those at that historic day were Tamati Wakanene and his brother Patuone from Te Popoto, the hapu of Utakura.

Secure in their forest sanctuary the little seedling flourished, reaching upwards for their place in the sun.Around them their siblings grew and were joined by others during the ensuing years.Some grew into mature trees while others suffered the fate of all living things and passed away from disease, old age or the predations of Man.

Our three totara trees continued to grow until the sounds of chainsaws echoed in their ears in 2007 and they felt the sharp teeth cut into their hard exterior skin and through the years of hard wood that had developed around their hearts.

Sadly they crashed to the ground but their time was not over - they were not about to pass silently away into the oblivion or become tourist carvings in some home far from their ancestral forest.

These young and healthy trees were about to start on a major journey that would see them assume a new identity and take their place proudly in the historic development at Mangatowai as the three pou that would welcome visitors on to the community marae on Taupo Bay road.

They would not be like the traditional poupou that many of their relatives had become but they would have a new appearance that would incorporate the kaupapa of Mangatowai - Nga Kaiawhi mo Mangatowai kia hikoi ko tahi, ai. (Everyone walking as one, like the flourishingsapling that blossoms for all to see and enjoy).

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Pix 1 - The three totara growing beside the old walking track.  Pix 2 - Kaumatua David Henare and Kaumatua Bo Harris (Utakura) in front of one of the selected totara.  Pix 3 - The first cut made by Mita Harris of the Department of Conservation.

Kaumatau Dave Henare andKaumatau Bo Harris beside the first totara to be felled.

Kaumatau Dave Henare and Kaumatau Bo Harris preparing the logs for loading.

Kaumatau Dave Henare attaching the totara log to the digger, operated by Mita Harris, to drag it out for transfer to Aurere for carving

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Artistís impression of the three poupou that will welcome visitors to Mangatowai.


The artistís impression of the traditional bird that tops the central poupouat Mangatowai.

These traditional taoanga will be unveiled and named at the official opening of Mangatowai.



 This page was last reviewed on 20/06/2008.


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