Ko Rawhiti te marae - Rawhiti is our marae
|My beautiful tupuna, Ene Rewha Parkes|
Mac Parkes, as he was known, looked after his wife Pearl and also her sister, my aunt Edna Kasper. Pearl and Edna were from a Dalmatian family. My mother, who was whangai, adopted. I remember their house always being full of love and peace and happiness, I loved staying there as a child, and with my other grandparents, Maria and Ron Raue. All my grandparents lived in Auckland, where I was born. Mac and Pearl Parkes loved, honoured and respected each other all the days of their lives.
At the time registration 6:15 in this video, Te Aroha Rewha tells the story of how our tupuna, my great great aunty Ene Rewha Parkes honoured the remains of a loyal family friend and servant, one of the two who accompanied Wiremu Parkes and Rea Rewha when they finally came home to Rawhiti from Thursday Island.
These people helped care for our tupuna and their many children. They were indigenous people from Thursday Island, where my great grandfather went to establish a successful pearl diving business, and Rea Rewha went with him.
These people from Thursday Island faithfully served our family for many years, and all Wiremu and Rea's many children, born on Thursday Island and Prince of Wales Island in the Torres Straits, would never have survived without the love and care and protection of these people.who became so much a part of our whanau that they remained with my great grandparents when they returned to Te RaaWhiti.
After they passed away, one of them was buried with my great grandfather in accordance with his wishes. It seems that my great grandfather's wishes were over ruled (after his death I presume), and the other faithful family housekeeper and nanny from Thursday Island was buried outside the urupa, as they weren't officially whanau, tangata whenua.
So Ene must have thought about this, and listened to our tupuna, as we can all learn to do, if we clear our mind of trivia and really listen. And Ene went up there one day (or one night), and she probably sang her karakia to the sea and to the stars, to Io, to the tupuna and the tangata whenua, and then Ene dug up their remains, and buried them respectfully, inside the urupa, against the wishes of some others, honouring those people from lands across the seas who looked after our great grandmother and great grandfather and all their little babies born on those lands across the seas, and honouring her mother and father, and honouring the Good/God that lives inside each one of us, honouring good and loyal people who treated our whanau, my great grandparents and all their little babies, as their own, strengthening the true bonds of aroha, manaakitanga, whakawhanaungatanga.
I come from a long line of strong women, loyal women, women with courage to do the right thing even it's not easy sometimes. It's humbling, and hard to live up to, but it's inspiring, and hugely comforting. In hard times, I feel the aroha and mana of my tupuna, wrapped around me like a korowai, impenetrable, tapu.
It's a very special place, that urupa. The whole place is full of such aroha (love). The urupa looks down over Oke Bay, where whales and dolphin often play. There is a tangible aura of peace, and love, that pervades the place where my tupuna sleep. Aunty Gwen is there now, and my brother too. My only wish (and my final will and testament) is for my remains to rest there too one day when the time comes.
Kia hora te marino
Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana.
Kia tere karohirohi i mua i tou huarahi.
May calm be spread around you, may the sea glisten like greenstone, and the shimmer of summer dance across your path...
Standing in our urupa next to where Aunty Gwen rests, with the sun on my eyelids, listening to the breeze breathe through the grass, and the sea gently pulsing, scenting the warm air, the wairua of our tupuna permeating my soul, ethereal, magical, timeless . . .
More information on the history of Ngati Kuta can be found at this link.
Two hapu share our marae, Te Rawhiti, our whanau have always been sharers, traders, diplomats. We understand, and practise, whakawhanaungatanga, the process of establishing relationships, and relating well to others. Kei te whakapapa ngā tātai, ngā kōrero rānei mō te ao katoa, nā reira ko ngā whakapapa he whakawhanaungatanga ki te ao, ki te iwi, ki te taiao anō hoki. Whakapapa is the recitation of genealogies or stories about the world, so whakapapa are ways by which people come into relationship with the world, with people, and with life. Ene Rewha listened to our tupuna, and understood this relationship.