‘Ko te ora tonu, kei te ora tonu!’ It is still living, it is alive!
More than 2,500 Māori from the central part of the country converged on Whanganui at Easter for the 61st Hui Aranga.
You may not know that the Hui Aranga, an annual gathering of Māori Catholic Clubs, is held and hosted every Easter by one of the clubs. In its heyday these celebrations attracted more than 80 Catholic Māori clubs from the Bluff in the deep south to Whangarei in the North.
Originally called Hui Tau Katorika, the Annual Catholic Gathering, the first Hui Aranga, in honour of the Resurrection, was held at Pukekaraka in Otaki in 1946, at Father Riordan SM’s suggestion.
This year’s Hui Aranga was hosted by Catholic clubs and communities of the Whanganui River. In the Diocese of Palmerston North such clubs as Te Kiingi o te Maungarongo of Ohakune, St Vincents, Kaiwhaiki and the Wainui-a-rua of Whanganui, Hato Paora College of Feilding, Waipatu of Hastings and Te Araukuuku of Normanby have been stalwarts of this annual gathering.
The late Bishop Takuira Mariu SM was patron of the hui and many of last year and this year’s compositions have been dedicated to him.
Each year the five-day hui begins with a powhiri, with the programme comprising prayer sessions, daily Mass or Liturgy, speech, scripture, sacred solo, drama, and kapa haka competitions with the theme ‘Christ’s journey’. Saturday allows some full-on physical activity including rugby, netball and touch.
Over 200 youth discussed the 2008 World Youth Day at the Rangatahi Forum led by local ‘riverites’ Jayson Herewini, Atiria Adlam and Valda-Ann O’Sullivan.
This year’s hui in Whanganui was one of the largest and most festive seen in recent years. Eleven teams and scores of visitors enjoyed awa (the river) and city of Whanganui’s fabulous weather and manaakitanga hospitality.
The liturgies were devised by Sr Makareta Tawaroa of Kaiwhaiki – Nga Paerangi and the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth. Bishop Peter Cullinane attended the Good Friday Liturgy, while Frs Hemi Hekiera, Chris Martin, Dave Bell, Dave Gledhill and Phil Cody were in attendance throughout.
Every Hui Aranga has highlights. This year was no exception as more than 200 singers massed together to sing this year’s choir piece ‘Te Hokinga Mai’ – the Homecoming, a composition written by Bishop Takuira for the return of the Te Māori Art Exhibition from America in 1984.
For the record, Kaiwhaiki Club won this year’s aggregate trophy. As the hosting team they passed the next hui on to the Wellington region. The 2008 Hui Aranga will be hosted by the Wellington Hui Aranga clubs of Tuhono and Nga Karere.
As Aunty Biddy Mareikura of Ohakune says, ‘Ko te ora tonu, kei te ora tonu te kaupapa nei’. – ‘It is still living, the kaupapa is alive!
Our late patron, Bishop Takuira, will be smiling with the future for the Hui Aranga looking bright as hosting clubs have booked in the hui for the next six years.
Danny Karatea-Goddard is a bishop’s assistant for Māori pastoral care in the Diocese of Palmerston North