Friday, 5 July 2019

Powhiri at Te Ranga, by Win Lunt

Powhiri at Te Ranga, by Win Lunt
On 1 November 2018 one hundred and twenty of the descendants of Patrick Freeburn Keenan gathered to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of his arrival in Tauranga. Patrick, with his wife and four children, had come from the West Coast of New Zealand to take up the life of a farmer on Pyes Pa Road. His father had left the troubled Ireland of the 1850s and had come first to Australia and later to the West Coast of New Zealand where Patrick and his eight siblings were born. A legacy from an uncle in Australia enabled Patrick and his wife to purchase the Pyes Pa farm.

That farm on Pyes Pa Road was situated about half a kilometre down the road from the battle site of Te Ranga. Patrick's children and grandchildren growing up there were barely aware of the significance of the site where the last major battle of the Land Wars was fought with the loss of over one hundred Maori lives.

As part of the family reunion celebrations Councillor Terry Molloy, a grandson of Patrick Keenan, organized, in conjunction with some of the descendants of those Maori who fought and died at Te Ranga, a powhiri. The powhiri was held as a gesture of healing and reconciliation. It was attended by many of Patrick Keenans descendants and by representatives of the Kennedy family whose family farm was directly opposite the battle site.  Mayor  of the Western Bay of Plenty Gary Webber, and Father Mark Fields were there. Representing the Maori tribes on whose land the battle had been fought were  among others, Tamiti Tata, Puhiraka Ihaka and Peri Kohu. After the ceremony there was an informal gathering and a morning tea at the home of Norman and Patricia Brooks.  Patricia is a grand daughter of Patrick Keenan and their home is situated on the farm that Patrick Keenan had farmed.

Terry Molloy with the recently planted Puriri tree at Te Ranga
Subsequently a puriri tree has been planted on the site of the battle ground  and it is intended that a memorial plaque will be placed near the tree some time in August  this year.

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