Regional | Arts

Waitangi Day photo tells historic story

Photo source: Strategy Creative

History has come to life in a photo of two direct descendants of the great Ngāti Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, who famously created the haka Ka Mate, used by the All Blacks.

The photo features 89-year-old Karanga Metekingi and her great-grandson Nohoa Ropata, aged 7.

Metekingi is the oldest living direct descendant of the chief and the oldest Ngāti Toa kaumātua in the Porirua suburb Takapūwahia.

Ropata is a ninth generation descendant of the chief.

The photo captures the two engaging in a hongi, showing the link between past and present and how traditional values still make up much of the modern world, according to Porirua City Council who have chosen to use the photo as their key promotional shot for Waitangi Day.

Te Rūnanga chairperson and kaumātua Taku Parai says Metekingi is known as “aunty or nanny” to most of the tamariki living in Takapūwahia.

“Everyone at the pā is tight-knit – the grandkids are at their grandparents’ homes all the time and everyone looks out for one another- there is an innate closeness.”

He says Ropata is also aware of his heritage and is proud of where he has come from.

According to NZ History, chief Te Rauparaha lived until 1849 and led Ngāti Toa in a lengthy war with the Waikato tribes before defeat forced his tribe out of the area.

From his base on Kapiti Island, he controlled the northerners' invasion of the top of the South Island and launched attacks against Ngāi Tahu.

In 1839 he sold land in Nelson and Golden Bay to the New Zealand Company and in 1840 he signed the Treaty of Waitangi – twice on different copies – believing it would guarantee him ownership of the lands he had conquered.

His iwi, Ngāti Toa, now consults with the city council to help them to make important decisions around Porirua’s mana whenua.

Parai says the iwi is excited to engage with the council to ensure Waitangi Day is also successful and memorable.

“Ngāti Toa has been here for many years and will be here for many more,” he says.