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Breathing life into Hirini St urupa

A karakia on Monday morning heralded the start of work on the upgrade of the cemetery on Hirini St in Kaiti.

The urupa is on the site of the original location of Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae, and has cultural and historical significance to the Tairawhiti area, especially to Ngati Oneone.

Hirini Te Kani-a-Takirau, who is buried at the urupa, built Te Poho-o-Rawiri as a Whare Whakamaumaharatanga (memorial house) to memorialise his father Rawiri (Te Eke Tu O Te Rangi).

Rawiri was tuakana (older cousin) to Te Kani-a-Takirau, paramount chief of te Tairawhiti.

When Te Kani-a-Takirau lost his son Te Waikari, Rawiri gave his son Hirini to Te Kani-a-Takirau, his teina (younger cousin), to raise.

On the death of Te Kani-a-Takirau, Hirini took on the mantle of his papa whangai (adopted father).

June Tangohau and Charlotte Gibson are direct descendants of Hirini.

GDC and Ngati Oneone have worked closely to prepare for the upgrade, which involves clearing the large trees and vegetation and the development of a storyboard which outlines the significance of the urupa and those who lie there.

GDC journeys capital manager Darren Cox looks forward to the project sharing the stories of the area's history and improving safety.

“This is an exciting project for our community which will enrich our understanding and appreciation of the history of this area,” he said.

“The upgrade will also improve visibility into the urupa and safety for cyclists, pedestrians and oncoming traffic.”

The work is part of the $4.5m Provincial Growth Fund upgrade of Rakaiatane Road, which is in its final stages of completion.

History of urupa: From left, GDC journeys capital manager Darren Cox, Tree and Garden director Riki Emery, Ngati Oneone representatives Charlotte Gibson, Carol Thorpe, June Tangohau, and Advanced Tree Solutions cross-cutter Frank Clapperton. Picture supplied