Friday, April 26, 2013


The other day a cuzzy asked about Ahikaaroa... what it means... and what it’s all about. The term ‘Ahikaaroa’ literally translates as.... ahi = fire, kaa = burning, roa = long. In Maori culture the ‘long burning fires’ is a reference to the central fire of the iwi, hapu or whanau. In every village there was at least one fire that was kept burning at all times. In pre-European Aotearoa there were no matches... it was extremely important that each whanau group maintain their fire... night and day. It was a gift from Mahuika... it was a sign of life... a sign that all is well... it showed how healthy the people were... how healthy the land was... how strong the iwi was. Te Ahikaaroa was a symbol of mana whenua... It keeps the people warm... the people grow strong... they keep the fires burning.

It’s also a powerful symbol of survival... it’s a central gathering place for the iwi... it’s where the tribal memories were shared... the tribal knowledge is past on... and the tribal histories are told. Long before the arrival of Cook... we use our ahikaaroa to claim ownership and occupation of the lands around Muriwai and Whareongaonga... our fires were many. When Joseph Banks sailed into Turanganui on Oct 9th 1769... He made the following note... “The bay appears to be quite open without the least shelter: the two sides of it made of high white cliffs; the middle is low land with hills gradually rising behind one another to the chain of high mountains inland. Here we saw many great smoke stacks, some near the beach others between the hills, some very far within land, which we looked upon as great indication of a populous country” ...he was right... Turanga-ara-rau (all roads lead to Turanga) 

There were heaps of Maori and many ‘ahi’ burning. Today the term Te Ahikaroa is about the people. The ‘ahikaroa’ is without doubt the whanau who bring our marae to life. The unsung heroes of home... those who are there to get things ready... those who prepare the beds... those who collect the food... those who prepare the food... those who set the tables... those who set the hangi... those who take care of our visitors... those on the paepae... those doing karakia or karanga... those who do the dishes... those who clean things up... and those who pack things away ready for next time. KOINA ko Te Ahikaaroa... collectively they are the pulse of our tribal aroha and the heart-beat of our tribal mana... THANK YOU ALL NGAI TAMANUHIRI... and... MAURIORA.... TOITU TE AHIKAAROA

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