Ngati Toa elders reminisce

Last updated 11:35 29/01/2013
Andrea O'Neil

GIGGLING FIT: Karanga (Claire) Metekingi, 83, and Irinora Parata, 89, have a laugh at last Friday’s kaumatua celebration at Takapuwahia Marae.

Andrea O'NEil
GREAT DANE: Judy Swainson entertained the group with stories of her marauding Danish Viking ancestors.

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They might be in their 70s and 80s but Ngati Toa kaumatua were giggling like school children as iwi members met to celebrate their elders.

Forty people gathered at Takapuwahia Marae on Friday morning for an hour of story telling and song.

Everyone recounted the history of their names.

A commonly recalled memory was pakeha being unable to pronounce Maori names at school decades ago.

Many spoke of their pride in reclaiming their Maori names in adulthood.

Dinny Rangihaeata did not realise he had a full Maori name until he saw his name on the school roll. He questioned his mother who said as a toddler he sat in his highchair calling for his dinner - "dinny" - so that's what they nicknamed him.

Mr Rangihaeta said it was strange to have reached kaumatua status, now older than his parents ever were.

Roena McCarthy said she had not traced her ancestry until recently and was so embarrassed when unable to tell people what her name meant while on holiday in Hawaii that she told them hers was the name of a Maori princess.

Kaumatua are highly respected and honoured in Maori culture as the repositories of wisdom and the history of the marae, Ms McCarthy said.

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