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Monday, August 27, 2012

RIP Rangatira o Whakatohea

This morning I heard that uncle Manny had passed away. Yesterday uncle 'Tenga had slipped away too. 

Matenga Biddle had been in bed for the last few days - surrounded by whanau - in the wharenui of the Ngai Tamahaua Hapu where he was the acknowledged Rangatira. Tuiringa 'Manny' Mokomoko was the fisheries expert for the tribe and he had been bed-ridden in his home just below the marae for the last week or so. Both men had suffered acute illness through the last days and it was distressing to witness what they went through. Manny especially being such a physically tough character couldn't help but soldier on through the obvious pain. They are now at their marae with their people.

If the proverb about a chief passing away being like a mighty totara having fallen is true then the loss of these two Rangatira for Whakatohea - and for the Ngai Tama Hapu in particular - is like a forest having fallen. The institutional knowledge these two possessed can never be replaced. The sad fact is they will take much of their intimate understanding with them. The challenge for the next generation is to keep true to the tikanga they lived by and to strive to achieve a just and honorable settlement with the Crown for the invasion and confiscation that besets Whakatohea and that debilitates the Iwi.
Pic: 'Tenga (right) with kaumatua and tamariki on bench at the Opape Pa looking West towards Opotiki, January 2012.
Pic: At centre 'Tenga hongis Pita Sharples (obscured) with Manny standing to right - at signing ceremony for the Mokomoko pardon bill, Waiaua Marae, September 2011. [One of the rare photos of Manny not in gumboots!]
Pic: Uri o Mokomoko outside the wharenui at the signing.

These two men were leaders, but with different styles. 'Tenga of ritual, religion, lore and the old school; Manny with a practical and ultilitarian approach. Both fought tirelessly for their people - giving themselves over to demanding duties and keeping relentless schedules until they fell ill.  One of the significant recent developments was the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill which Manny led as the head of the whanau Mokomoko (see pictures above).


At 28/8/12 1:02 am, Blogger Frank said...

It's a sad loss for a community when their loved ones and leaders pass away...

One can but hope there is a new generation of young leaders making their way through.

At 3/4/13 12:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the mighty totara falls ..gives light to the saplings to reach for the heavens ....:)


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