Otiria Marae Memorials

Marae Marae Marae Opening plaque Memorial plaque

On 16 April 1950 Judge I. Pritchard of the Maori Land Court opened a war memorial dining hall at Otiria Marae. Archdeacon A.H. Johnston dedicated the building, and Mr F.A. Paul, Chairman of the Kawakawa Town Board, unveiled the memorial plaque inside. This was lettered as follows:

1914-18 / OTIRIA & DISTRICT / 1939-45 /- / MEMORIAL TABLET / “DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY / OF THE GALLANT MEN, / MAORI AND PAKEHA / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES / FOR KING AND COUNTRY.”

On the same day, Archdeacon Johnston also dedicated the marae flagstaff in memory of the late Tau Henare, long-serving MP for Northern Maori, and the late Pita Pomare Kingi, the leader who had given the land for the marae and initiated the work on the wharekai. (The flagstaff has recently been removed for restoration.)

Three years after the wharekai was opened, work began on a carved meeting house. The carvings were begun by Eramiha Kapua and continued after his death by Hori Waititi. Governor-General Sir Bernard Fergusson opened the meeting house (Tūmatauenga) on 5 February 1964. The Bishop of Aotearoa, W.N. Panapa, dedicated it as a memorial to all New Zealanders, both Māori and European, who had fought and died in the world wars.

The wharekai (Te Puna I Keteriki) was refurbished and extended in 2012. The war memorial tablet was restored and replaced in the wharekai on 27 April 2015.

The marae’s original meeting house, Porowini, had been built in 1876 and moved to the site around 1904. High on one wall in Porowini is another evocative memorial tablet: a list of the names of 28 Ngāti Hine men, women and children who died of influenza between 20 November 1918 and 3 January 1919.

Sources: ‘Threefold Reason for Otiria Celebrations’, Northern Advocate, 17/4/1950, p. 5; ‘Otiria Memorial Maori Meeting House’, Northern Advocate, 17/3/1953, p. 3; Tawai Kawiti, ‘The Otiria Meeting Houses’, Te Ao Hou, no. 3, Summer 1953, pp. 10-11; ‘Maori Memorial Hall Features Royal Family’, Northern Advocate, 2/1/1957, p. 2; ‘Memorial House to be Opened’, Auckland Star, 22/1/1964; ‘Maori Meeting House Opened at Otiria as War Memorial’, Weekly News, 12/2/1964, p. 32; Kay Boese, Tides of History: Bay of Islands County, Kawakawa, 1977, pp. 247-8; Roger Neich, Carved Histories, Auckland, 2001, pp. 345-6; ‘Otiria Marae Opens Revamped Wharekai’, Northern Advocate, 17/12/2012; Robin Muru and Sam Walters, Marae: Te Tatau Pounamu, Auckland, 2014, pp. 86-103.

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