Uepōhatu Memorial Hall, Ruatoria

Memorial hall Memorial Memorial plaque

Governor General Sir Bernard Freyberg formally opened Uepōhatu Memorial Hall in Whakarua Park, Ruatōria, on 13 September 1947. The hall had been built at the instigation of Sir Āpirana Ngata to honour East Coast soldiers, both Pākehā and Māori, who had given their lives during both world wars. Other events during the two-day hui that marked the completion of the hall included a reunion of ex-servicemen, an investiture ceremony, a haka competition, a concert, and a series of rugby matches.

The hall outside has a conventional appearance, but the interior is richly carved and decorated. The carvings are by master craftsmen Pine Taiapa and Rua Kaika. The commemorative tablets and tukutuku panels include one honouring Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa Ngārimu, the first Māori soldier to win the Victoria Cross.

Sources: ‘Maori Ceremonial at Ruatoria’, Gisborne Herald, 13/9/1947, p. 6; ‘Sacrifices of Maori People: Memorial Hall Officially Opened’, Gisborne Herald, 15/9/1947, p. 6; ‘Maoris Assemble in Great Numbers at an East Coast Hui …’ Auckland Weekly News, 24/9/1947, pp. 26-7; I.L.G. Sutherland, The Ngarimu Hui, Wellington, 1949; David Simmons, Meeting-Houses of Ngāti Porou O Te Tai Rāwhiti, Auckland, 2006, p. 93; ‘Uepōhatu built as a memorial to the two great wars’ (Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou).

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