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Te Pourewa Beacon of Light

Uawa Hoturangi maunga yesterday received a new 12m high “beacon of light” at an unveiling ceremony in celebration of Tahitian navigator and priest Tupaia.

Te Aitanga a Hauiti iwi welcomed Tahitians from Mahina and Raiatea, the latter being where Tupaia was from, in a cultural exchange and acknowledgement of Te Ahikaa, representing the long-burning home fires of Te Aitanga a Hauiti and the joint belief of, “Our people, our story, our place.”

Tupaia was a land, ocean and celestial navigator who, from Tahiti joined the Endeavour that reached Aotearoa in 1769.

When he arrived at Opoutama (Cook’s Cove) aboard the Endeavour he was welcomed and highly regarded by Te Aitanga a Hauiti, and established himself as a main contact between the iwi, James Cook and his crew.

Te Aitanga a Hauiti leader, Victor Walker told Maori Television that those leaders who welcomed Tupaia were Te Whakatatare o Te Rangi and Hinematioro.

“The name is Te Pourewa (beacon of light) because of the island where Hinematioro lived in her time, not far from here, from Titirangi maunga.

“The essence is ahi kaa.

“Te taenga mai o tatou matua tipuna ki konei ka kaa te ahi, (when our ancestors arrived, the home fires were lit).

“This relationship began when Tupaia arrived here on the Endeavour,” he said.

He told Maori Television the day was about connecting the intertwined lineage between the iwi and the Tahitian people.

“They brought large carvings to remember their ancestor Tupaia.”

Gisborne District Council Maori engagement adviser Walton Walker said people from Raiatea would dress in green as the men carrying the taonga did yesterday.

Race Relations Commissioner and former Mayor Meng Foon said yesterday was a great day of whakawhanaungatanga (process of establishing relationships).

“Our sister city of Mahina honoured us with their presence at Hauiti Marae. They brought their tipuna Tupaia wairua back following the footsteps of Tupaia.

“It was an awesome occasion and one that will be etched in my mind forever.”

Victor Walker said the Te Pourewa sculpture representing ahi kaa and designed by Mark Kopua, was a “symbol that we were here and here we remain today”.


A haka to honour the 12m high sculpture installed on Hoturangi Maunga in Uawa in celebration of Tahitian ancestor, navigator and priest Tupaia. The piece, by Mark Kopua, symbolises Ahi Kaa the long-burning home fires of Te Aitanga a Hauiti, the iwi who welcomed Tupaia when he arrived on the Endeavour in 1769 at Opoutama (Cook’s Cove).? Picture by Paul Rickard
Tahitian whanau brought carvings to remember their ancestor, Tupaia, to Uawa Tolaga Bay. Tupaia Simeon, Fateata Lionel, Fateata Tereham carry the carving on to Haitit Marae. Picture by Paul Rickard
Lotefa Guillaume stands the carving up for all to see. Picture by Paul Rickard