Maungarongo ki runga i te whenua: from swords to ploughshares

The Ngā Tapuwae o te Kāhui Maunga (the footsteps of the ancestors) – the gardens at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park draws together the shared heritage and unified futures of New Zealanders.

Published: Rāapa, 06 Haratua, 2015 | Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Part of the Government’s WW100 commemorative programme included the redevelopment of the area surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Wellington’s Buckle Street. The Pukeahu National War Memorial commemorates all New Zealanders who died in the South African War, First World War, Second World War, post-war conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It also honours all men and women who served New Zealand in those wars and conflicts.

Māori at Pukeahu

The Ngā Tapuwae o te Kāhui Maunga gardens, sitting at the foot of the carillon tower, furnishes the park with space for recreation and quiet reflection. The gardens acknowledge the long association of Māori with Pukeahu (Mount Cook).

Much of the land around Pukeahu was occupied by ngakinga (gardens) for the Te Akatarewa pā. This was a major pā for the Ngāi Tara iwi, so they developed numerous garden sites, including on Pukeahu. These gardens were also used by the Taranaki iwi from Te Aro pā centuries later.

These Taranaki people, along with Wellington mana whenua Te Ātiawa, descend from Kāhui Maunga who was settled on the slopes of Mount Taranaki. Artist Darcy Nicholas links their relationships to Pukeahu with several installations at the gardens.

Ngā iwi o te Kāhui Maunga

Three toka sourced from Taranaki, Tongariro and Ruapehu bring together the people connected with the Kāhui Maunga story. Alongside the toka is Hinerangi (pictured), a bronze sculpture by Darcy Nicholas. Hinerangi faces the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and the mountain Aoraki (Mt Cook) in the South Island. She represents the spirit who traverses the ancestral hills and mountains to pay homage to those remaining in the physical world before journeying north to Te Rerenga Wairua.

Hinerangi, along with the statue of the woman and children inside the Hall of Memories, serve as a reminder that war affected whole families. If you look carefully you will see the fingerprints of Parihaka descendants left on bricks featured in a wall nearby; they were imprisoned at Mount Cook Barracks in 1879, after the sacking of Parihaka. Their story of passive resistance has continued to inspire many today.

The bricks were placed directly into a wall that also features whakatāuki from: Parihaka Tupuna Te Whiti o Rongomai – Maungarongo ki runga i te whenua; The Māori Contingent of World War I – Te Hokowhitu a Tū; and the 28th Māori Battalion of World War II – Ake, Ake, Kia Kaha E. 

Remembering Pacific Island warriors

Te Ātiawa iwi planted pōhutukawa all over the city of Wellington, in particular at the National War Memorial, so that the trees would bloom red flowers to welcome warriors home.

When the Pacific Island volunteers fought for New Zealand they were sometimes enlisted in the 28th Māori Battalion. With a long history between Te Atiawa iwi and the Pacific Island people, it was appropriate to acknowledge the service of Pacific Island volunteers in a distinctive way.

During the Second World War volunteers from the Pacific Islands fought for New Zealand, including a few who served in the 28th (Māori) Battalion. Around the same time, a prominent descendant of Wellington’s Te Ātiawa iwi married a Rarotongan ariki, forming a strong connection with the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Island people celebrate their warriors with red flowers; and so,in recognition of the Pacific Island soldiers who died in the war, Te Ātiawa iwi planted pōhutukawa all over the city of Wellington, in particular at the National War Memorial, so that the trees would bloom red flowers to welcome the warriors home.

Read more about Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Read more about Ngā Tapuwae o te Kāhui Maunga