beautiful monsters: sign

May 24, 2004


This follows on from rotorua adventures part 1 in which I met Gerry Brownlee, and a Ngati Whakaue kaumatua, Pihopa Kingi, gave me the kupu for this waiata.

Kaore te Aroha is the tangi of a father for his daughter, who drowned swimming across from Mokoia island to meet the first minister at Ohinemutu. I wasn’t sure if it would be suitable to research for our course, cos none of the waiata we study have any Christian stuff at all, and this one, it’s all “we will grasp the word of the Lord, and embrace Jesus Christ…” So I thought I’d keep looking and see if I found anything else. I called up this woman, Ngawara Gordon, who runs the Hei Tiki gallery. She organised an amazing week of workshops for Taonga Puoro and traditional Celtic music earlier this year. Anyway, we talked for a while, and she came up with the same waiata, and said it was like the Te Arawa anthem (which I could believe, because it was so familiar). I explained to her my reservations, about the Christian stuff, and so she told me about a different waiata, about the Tarawera eruption. She said she could get the words from her office.

Meanwhile I talked to another of my mum’s contacts, this guy, Mauriora, who’s the council iwi liaison officer. I went in to see him at the council, and to my surprise he said “My whanaunga, Ngawara, has just been in and told me about your project.” He explained that the Tarawera one went on for about eight minutes, and wasn’t used so much. “But I can tell you about this other beautiful waiata…” Then the woman who works in his office piped up, “oh, are you talking about Kaore te Aroha?” “Yeah,” he said, and he asked me “have you heard of it?” I went bright red and mumbled, “yeah, I think I might have come across it…” Mauriora was able to write down the whakapapa of the composer, so that was a bonus!

After having affirmations from four people, I figured, he tohu. It’s a sign, this is the one I’m meant to do. So what if I’m the only one to do one that has Christian stuff in it? I am a Sunday school teacher after all! And it’s such an important part of Te Arawa.


Pihopa told us the story about how the Anglican missionary came to Rotorua first, and a lot of people converted. And then a Catholic priest came along, and the chief thought he was a decent guy too, and it wasn’t fair he’d missed out just because he came later. So the chief said “everyone on my right side will remain faithful to the Anglican Church, and everyone on my left will join the Catholic Church.” And his mana was such that everyone obeyed him, even though some families were split up, some on his left, some on his right. Even today there are families that are half Anglican, half Catholic, living in Ohinemutu.

Posted by Fionnaigh at May 24, 2004 01:20 AM