Remembering Marg and Heitia Hiha
Ka rere a Matariki, ka wera te hinu!
Tamatea High School celebrated Matariki on Thursday 23rd of June by planting a native ngahere. With funding and support from Matariki Tū Rākau (NZ Forestry), Panpac Ltd, One Foundation, Ray Burkett, Leon Phillips and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc, the school has been able to cover the nearly $60 thousand for plants, irrigation, electricity, mulch and landscaping.
The dawn ceremony started with a blessing of the ngahere by Koro Matiu Eru and Tipene Cottrell. The ngahere was dedicated to the memory of Heitia Hiha and his wife Marg Hiha. Tumuaki of Tamatea High School, Robin Fabish, said ‘We wanted to honour Heitia and Marg for the contribution they made to so many young people’s lives in Ahuriri. Being able to recognise their whakapapa links to Pētane and Tangoio marae was also important to us. We want to continue to strengthen our connection with our hapū and whānau.’
The school has been working with local designer Colin James (Ngāti Kahungu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) who created the layout. They converted an underused soccer field and planted it in native trees. There is a clearing in the middle with power cable laid so that in the future it could be used for weddings, funerals, kapa haka and band performances. In the years to come, the ngahere will be an asset for the community and the school whānau is proud of the legacy project they have created.
To protect the ngahere, the school has irrigated the trees. This will be especially important in the hot Kahungunu summers. Unfortunately, the school has also had to pay for floodlighting and security cameras because in the first few days after planting some trees were dug up and stolen. Matua Robin said that the school whānau whānui was angry and disappointed. He added that the people who stole them obviously didn’t appreciate the tikanga related to the karakia that had been done on the ngahere. He hopes that nothing untoward happens to the culprits – some would say ‘Ana tō kai!’ Some of the stolen trees were kauri and rimu which were worth around $100 each. The school is looking for a solution to replace the rākau.
After the ngahere blessing and a hautapu ceremony to celebrate Matariki, all guests were fed a hearty breakfast before taking part with the students and community in planting trees all day. Mānawatia a Matariki!