National | Moko Kauae

'Moko kauae represents my Tūrangawaewae'

Nanahere Poutapu-Te Koi, the granddaughter of the late Tainui master carver, Piri Poutapu, says receiving her moko kauae now represents 100 years of Tūrangawaewae Marae's existence.

"I was looking at all the photos hanging in Pare Waikato meeting house while I was underneath them and around them," Poutapu-Te Koi said. " I just felt all the love and I was comfortable. To me, that was a blessing from them to get it.”

Nanahere Poutapu-Te Koi said a kōrero with Tā Moko artist Te Wehi Preston made her feel relaxed, "We spoke about the meaning. I told him I wanted it to be about the 100 years.”

“I love looking at the women who have moko kauae. I didn’t think it was for me because I don’t do karanga and waiata, I do the mahi at the back [Kāuta] and I always want to be there. Soon I’ll have to come out of there as the young ones are stepping up and doing well. I’ll need to start learning [karanga and waiata],” Poutapu-Te Koi said.

She said growing up on the marae was a way of life. Tūrangawaewae Marae had been another home for her and whānau.

"The duty started the day I was born. As soon as we could walk we were picking up rubbish. My mother would do the gardens and we would help with the rubbish until we were big enough to hold a rake and dig a hole - then we got to the gardening,” she said.

Piri Te Ranga Poutapu 

Her grandather, Wiremu "Piri" Te Ranga Poutapu MBE (June 8, 1905 – August 20, 1975) was a Māori master carver and carpenter. Poutapu was a protégé of Te Puea Herangi who sent him to the School of Maori Arts at Ohinemutu in 1929.

Poutapu was one of the leaders in the building of Turongo, the Māori king's official residence at Turangawaewae Marae, between 1934 and 1938. Some of Poutapu's best-known carvings include carvings for Rotorua Boys' High School and Te Aute College, as well as restoring the Te Winika and Ngātokimatawhaorua war canoes.

The moko papa wānanga was held at Turangawaewae Marae to celebrate 100 years since the establishment of the Kiingitanga marae. More than thirty-five Ngāruawahia locals with whakapapa links to Tūrangawaewae Marae received their moko kauae and mataora.

“I’m still getting used to it and sometimes I forget I’ve got it. The first thing I said was 'what do I have to do, do I have to change?' I’m still getting comfortable with my moko kauae,” Poutapu-Te Koi said.

“I didn’t think about it at first but my son [Taane Te Koi] and I talked about it. I said to him no one in our whānau has moko [moko kauae]. He said it’s not about that. I thought about it and agreed it’s about all the hard work from the people who helped to build this place [Tūrangawaewae Marae] from the time they arrived it was a dump and now look what they’ve made of it.”