Kario te Maunga (Kario
is the mountain)
Ko Mimiti te
is the creek)
Ko Patau te
is the cemetery)
Te Wahapu ko
is the entrance to the bay from the ocean)
Mangatowai Te Marae
Hitoria o Mangatowai
(The History of
nga korero o raroiho nei.
enei nga Tuhinga Hitoria I mahara I mou I taku tuakana
me hau Rawiri na reira ka mihi ki nga matua tupuna moe
eni taonga waihonga mai.
This history are
the words remembered by my elder cousin Romano (Keti)
and myself (Rawiri) and now we thank our ancestors for
sharing these treasures.
into the rolling hills of Akatarere, Northland, the new
development for the Mangatowai Marae is on land steeped
in the history of the Henare family, reaching back to
the 1920's when Raureti Henare purchased about 220 acres
of the Whakapaku block from the Crown.
Tamati Henare ("Raureti") who originally
purchased the Akatarere Block in the 1920's.
"To buy land in those days was a
major financial commitment," Kaumatua David Henare says,
thinking back to his study of the family history.
"Uncle Raureti had to go gum digging to help find the
money. He built a Kauta1,
and attached to it a whare Nikau2.
He slept in the whare Nikau and cleaned his gum in the
"His nephew Kete Oliver helped with the cleaning of the
gum and he told me that the whare Nikau never leaked, no
matter how hard it rained. Kete said it was warm and
Raureti Henare, known as Tom when he joined the New
Zealand Army, also worked at the Totara North mill with
his four brothers - Jerry, Wiroa, Rikihana and Mihipo
As time went by, David's granddad and grandmother
shifted out to Akatarere from Waimahana Bay and their
sons built their parents a whare Nikau about 40 feet
(12.5 meters) away from the Kauta. Kete told David that
the grandparents also helped with the cleaning of the
gum while their grandmother did the cleaning, cooking
and making Rewana bread. They also 'suggested' to their
sons that they should build a wharekai3
and a wharehui4.
Grandfather Manuka Mihipo Henare with his favourite
pipe and hat -
Ngati Aukiwa. Ngati Rehia, Ngati Kahu
David can remember his father telling him that Lane's
Mill in Totara North used to take 5 shillings (50 cents)
a week out of their wages for the timber used to build
the wharekai and wharehui.
How did they get the timber from the Totara North mill
back to Akatarere?
Remember that this was at a time when the roads were
not sealed and it was 13.25 miles (19.6km) between the
two locations. By car it still takes nearly 30 minutes
but these men were traveling by pushbike each balancing
a length of rough sawn timber on their shoulder - and by
looking at the remains of the wharehui these could have
been anything from 100mm x 50mm (4" x 2") rough sawn
heart rimu through to 200mm x 25mm (8" x 1") rough sawn totara weatherboards up to 3 meters in length.
Not only would it take a long time but it would have
been difficult tracking through gravel and still keeping
your balance - and without the benefit of mountain bikes
with multiple gears.
A traditional wharenikau like the
one built by Manuka's sons for their parents Mere and Manuka
- click here for a
larger image. To view the construction of a wharenikau
at the Mangatowai site in October 2006 click
The wharekai was the first building to
be built - the whare Nikau attached to the Kauta was
pulled down and the wharekai was added to the Kauta.
Compared to present prices timber might seem to have
been cheap in those days but the cost has to be equated
against the wages on offer. Lane's sawmill checked their
old records and came up with the following prices for
the timber used in the construction of the wharehui and
Subfloor - Rimu, 4"
x 2" rough sawn 5.7p per foot - Total cost
Flooring - Rimu
tongue & grove, 7.9p per foot - Total cost
Wall, framing - 3"
x 2" rimu, 6.06p per foot - Total cost
Wall, lining - Taraire, 5.64p per foot - Total cost ₤16.17.6
Wall, weatherboard - Totara 8" x 1"
65.6p per foot - Total
Roof, purlins - 3" x 2" rimu rough sawn 6.12p per foot -
Total cost ₤3.4.9
Roof, framing - 4" x 2" rimu at 6.12p per foot - Total
Roof, sarking - 6" x 1" rimu tongue and grove, 8.04p per
foot - Total cost ₤17.10.3
Total cost of construction of the wharehui ₤99.13.6
wharekai cost half this amount.
was the official New Zealand currency until it was
replaced by the $NZ in 1967. In those days twenty
shillings made up one pound and twelve pence made a
shilling - at the time of conversion one dollar was
equal to ten shillings. The linear measurements were in
feet and inches and on decimal conversion one inch was
equal to 2.5 centimeters.)
David can remember the material
his uncle used to build the Kauta. The four main posts
were manuka about 200mm in diameter while the framing
was constructed from manuka sticks covered with
corrugated iron and, originally, that was where the
cooking was done. The new wharekai was built by David's
dad and his brothers; the wharehui was built by his two
uncles, Nahi Solomon and John Taniora. These two
buildings were built at their granddad's wishes for the
use of his family, his brothers and sisters and the rest
of the whanau around the rohe5.
When World War II broke out David's Uncle Jerry and his
young brother Uncle Raureti joined the Army. All the
Northland Maori enlistments went to Papakura Military
Camp for their initial training before they both
went overseas with the 28th Maori Battalion.
Uncle Jerry came back from the war in 1945 but his
younger brother didn't make the return trip, he was
killed in action.
Grandmother Mere Matiu with her sons Rikihana Henare
(left), Wiora Henare (centre) and Mihipo Heremia Henare,
not shown is her daughter Maria Henare - Ona hapu Ngati
Kahu, Ngati Aukiwa, Ngati Kuri, Matakairiri for a larger
photo click here.
Their grandmother gave the land to her four children and
David's father Mihipo Henare farmed the front 50 acres
until he left Mangatowai in 1959 to go to Rotorua, his
son Jerry taking over the farm.
The land was in private ownership in 1960 when Jerry
also left the farm. Negotiations for its return to the
whanau began in 1995. One year later agreement was
reached with the current owner Stewart Leslie for the
return of the front block as the first step in
recovering the whenua of Mangatowai.
The old marae site was closed
off in 1990 by Father Tony Brown of Waitaruke and
Waihora More with over 80 people attended the hui - for
a larger photo click here.
On Saturday 24 May 2003 the land was formally gifted
back by the Leslie family.
original wharehui at Mangatowai as it stands today - for
a larger photo click here.
On Saturday, 29 October 2005 the Mangatowai community
concept was formally launched at a hui that held special
significance to the whanau because it opened the door to
a historical future not just for Mangatowai but also for
Life at Mangatowai
The whanau were self-sufficient in most ways only
needing flour, sugar and tea from the nearest shop -
which in those days was at Mangonui, Totara North or
Kaeo and transport to the shops was usually by horseback.
In time horses gave way to motor
vehicles and David's father was the proud owner of an
old Pontiac and a maroon truck. Taxis were also
available from Totara North and Mangonui to take the
whanau shopping or to tangihanga6.
The whanau at Mangatowai lived off the land. They grew
their own vegetables and meat, produced their own butter
and milk and went fishing at Tupou, Waimahana and
It is intended that these early examples of
self-sustainability will be replicated at the new marae
to open a window into the past and encourage the present
generations to make better use of their land - no matter
how small that parcel is.
Hemi and Tania Hemi, great great granddaughters of Mere Matiu, trying out the old way of doing the washing in
the Awa Mimiti stream at Mangatowai
of the Sea
There were abundant fish in the costal waters around
Waimahana and Tupou as well as octopus, paua, kina,
pupus, crayfish, karengo (seaweed), teromoana (sea
anemone), huamutu (little paua) and tua tua.
Sometimes the fishermen would make a fish trap by
digging a trench in the sand to the lagoon; they would
then go diving for kina (sea eggs), crayfish and paua and on their return they would
find fish trapped in the trench by the receding tide.
Shark were dried and salted. The bodies were hung over
fences until they dried and could be stored for later
The fish then available in reasonably large amounts were
- snapper, trevally, tarakihi, kingfish, John Dory, cod,
leatherjacket, maomao, sting ray, parore, flounder,
porai, hapuka, groper, mullet, kahawai, whitebait and
Many of these fish are now hard to catch as they have
gained 'commercial' popularity both in New Zealand and
In the past gardening was an essential part of the life
of every whanau. The land produced abundant crops with
a little bit of work and the food was both healthy and
Mangatowai gardens produced peas, taro, beans, lettuce,
cabbage, silverbeet, sugar cane, kumara, cauliflower,
apple cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, kamo kamo,
beetroot, rhubarb, tomatoes, radish, turnip, parsnips,
carrots, Swedes, peanuts and corn. The corn was often
milled for flour to make bread. In the early autumn
mushrooms were picked from the surrounding fields.
A large orchard provided summer fruit to be eaten in
season and preserved for the winter months. The range
included apples, pears, figs, plums, lemonades, lemons,
loquats, peaches, grapes, banana passion fruit, cape
gooseberries, watermelons, oranges and grapefruit.
Hens had open access to the garden providing both eggs
and meat for the whanau.
There were honey bee hives near the gate at the bottom
of the marae. David's grandfather never needed any
protection when he took the combs full of honey from the
hives and put them into calico bags to be consumed later
as a wonderful treat. When a whare Nikau built at
Mangatowai earlier was dismantled it was found that the
walls were full of honey stored by earlier generations
of industrious bees.
provided beef, pork, mutton and lamb as well as milk.
These were supplemented by catching wild goats and
rabbits from the surrounding bush, already a pest well
established in the area.
Not only were there vegetables in the garden but there
were many resources to be gathered from the surrounding
Nikau titi could be eaten raw or cooked but there were
many others both medicinal and edible. Among these were
- karamu (medicine), kawa kawa (medicine), bula bula
(blue berry), totara, karaka, taraire and miro berries,
thistle, puha, toe taka (dandelion) and water cress.
As well as the vegetable foods there were also abundant
birds to be caught for food - kiwi, kukupa, ducks,
pheasants and quail. Many of these are so endangered
now that the harvesting of them is either totally banned
or very restricted.
As with so many local isolated communities, most minor
injuries were treated at home; only the more serious
accidents taken to Whangaroa, the nearest medical
facility. Many of the treatments used are well known
around the world and these included Rawleighs ointment,
Mercurochrome, chamomile lotion (used for rashes and
Children who felt unwell were sometimes dosed with malt,
castor oil and cod liver oil so staying healthy was the
preferred option because the cure was often worse than
Babies were born initially at Whangaroa Hospital but
then the maternity service was moved to Kaeo when the
new facility was built on the hill overlooking the town
Wedding: Harry Brown and Maria Henare at Mangatowai, (7. 1. 59)
- for a larger photo click
Mangatowai marae hosted five weddings that are recorded
Robbie Erihe m
Ngahiraka Peterson c 1940
Pere Taipari m
Joan Toe Toe 8 May 1954
Maria Henare m
Harry Brown 7 January 1959
Jerry Henare m
Mary Newton 23 April 1960
Dictrost m Ripeka Henare 28 April 1962
is intended that the new Mangatowai community marae will
continue this page in our history.
Te Whare Karakia at Waimahana around 1920. The wairua and remnants remain onsite
- for a larger photo click
Over the years many whanau rested at Mangatowai before
beginning their final journey to the Patau cemetery at
Wiremu Henare (28/9/1906 -
Ngahuia Mihipo (1828 - 1935)
Ihimaera Mihipo (10/9/1863 -
Pouro Henare (10/10/1913 -
Mere Heremia Mihipo (16/3/1876 -
Hariata Mihipo (10/6/1867 -
Maria Henare (25/12/1908 -
Manuka Mihipo (10/9/1873 -
Ripeka Henare (? - 16/8/1969)
Ruahine Henare (23/11/1907 –
Edith Tatai (23/3/1936 –
Bernadine Raewyn Taipari (? -
The coffins were carried to Waimahana, staring at 8 am,
arriving at the final resting place at 2 pm before
returning to Mangatowai arriving around 5 pm. There
were 8 pall bearers of similar height to carry each
coffin as they followed the track from Mangatowai to
Waimahana. For this final journey the coffin was placed
on a kau hoa (carrying frame) made from manuka.
It is intended to again offer this courtesy to the
deceased when the new marae is operational.
An introduction to the early days of Ngatikahu ki
Whangaroa te iwi
te Waka (Mamaru is the canoe)
te Tangata (Parata was the man)
Kahukuraariki te Wahine (Kahukuraariki was the
Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa te iwi (Ngatikahu was the
The Mamaru waka landed at Taipa. Te Parata and
Kahukuraariki and the crew of the waka7
settled at Taemaro Bay and started Ngati Kahu ki
Whangaroa. They expanded in to Waimahana and further
afield protecting our rohe through continuous
In 1874 the crown passed the Waimahana and Taemaro Grant
Act and the magistrate William White gave back to the
people of Taemaro and Waimahana the land they had
originally settled. Taemaro was granted back 99 acres
and Waimahana was given back 680 acres. The Waimahana
land was divided into 10 blocks and these were vested
into the care of 10 elders of the whanau as trustees.
Notes - 1 Kauta
cooking shed or kitchen
2 whare Nikau
- building made using Nikau palms
- dining hall/cook house
- meeting house
- district, region
Latest sections of historical
interest on our web site:
Gallery of historical photographs from Mangatowai's past
a wharenikau at Mangatowai
Hikoi down Whangaroa Harbour by the
waka Te Aurere
History of the Poupou for
The Place of Whales in Maori
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