Dawn of a new day
An important piece of Kerikeri's cultural fabric will now be cared for by the people it represents.
Ngati Rehia has taken over the lease for Rewa's Village in the Kerikeri Basin Recreation Reserve from the Society for the Preservation of the Kerikeri Stone Store Area which established the place, with the help of the people of Te Tii.
The sunrise meeting at Rewa's Village last Saturday spoke to the spirit of co-operation between the two groups.
"May the sun continue to shine on your faces and may we continue to work together," Whitiora marae chairman Taua Kemp said to the group handing over the site.
He thanked society members for their dedication to, and care for the place and he shared personal and ancestral stories. He added that it was incumbent upon Ngati Rehia to take care of the site for Ngapuhi.
The handing over ceremony moved from Rewa's Village to Whitiora Marae where longest serving member Joyce Mason, spoke of the society's inception.
"We saw trees being pushed down by a bulldozer and there were going to be 108 houses built on that historic land," she said.
It was a few days later that the society was formed.
She acknowledged her friend Nancy Pickmere's work for the Kerikeri basin.
Department of Conservation area manager Rolien Elliot thanked the society for its efforts over the years.
She said it was a great opportunity to tell of its pre-European history.
"It's public conservation land - it's all of our land - that we have the honour of looking after," she said.
The transfer of the Rewa's Village site has helped improve relationships between the groups working to preserve the area, she said.
The relationships between the society and Ngati Rehia are probably stronger now than they've ever been, she added.
The groups are members on the Kerikeri Basin Management Group along with DOC.
Rewa's Village holds a place in history in the telling of Maori stories, society president Yvonne Robinson said.
"When it was set up, it was set up as a fundraising proposition, but also when it was set up there was nowhere in Northland, practically nowhere in New Zealand where people could go and see what Maori culture had been like before Europeans came," Ms Robinson said.
"People came and they knew the mission history, but there was nothing to represent the Maori culture."
Ms Robinson said the society had done a wonderful job of setting Rewa's Village up and maintaining it.
"Now that Ngati Rehia are here, they'll be able to bring in more stories that weren't known - we don't know half the stories."