Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti to come out strong at Te Matatini nationals

By Te Ao Māori News
Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti preparing for Te Matatini 2015 - Photo / file

It was 150 years ago today that missionary Carl Volkner was killed.  Te Whakatōhea chief Mokomoko was wrongfully charged with his murder and hung for it.  

The government responded by confiscating hectares of Te Whakatōhea land.  

Today, those injustices still resonate and are threaded through the songs Ōpotiki Mai Tawhiti will perform this week at Te Matatini. 

Te Kahautu Maxwell says, "The tragedy was the confiscation of lands.  The tragedy was the hanging of our innocent ancestor, Mokomoko.  All that history makes us who we are, Te Whakatōhea."

Ricky Lee Tapuni Mitai says, "I know that I will always feel the greatest respect for him.  When Queen Victoria's troops invaded our lands, that's when our grievances against the Crown began and that still hasn't been settled."

"The government confiscated more than 250 acres of Te Whakatōhea land, leaving Te Whakatōhea landless and impoverished," explains Maxwell.

Mitai describes, "Because his dying words still haunt us, the hurt we feel may never go away."

Anameka Pirini says, "That's one of the great things about this group, learning the customs and religion.

That also filters down to how we are organised on the marae and in the kitchen.  All those things are really beautiful."

Dr Mania Campbell-Seymour says, "There are a few of us in the group who have gone to university and pursued the education pathway because we know it's the way to help out our people of Te Whakatōhea."

Pirini says, "One of the hardest challenges this time round was the size of our group.  This campaign we had 32 women and 30 men trial for the group, and we know only 20 women and 20 men can take the stage."

Maxwell says, "This year, the national competition is in Christchurch.  That's made it one of the hardest trips we've ever had to take, knowing that we had to come up with around $100,000.

But our young people in the group wanted this, to go to Te Matatini."