Guardians of the Totara

A beautiful carved fence surrounds and protects the sacred tōtara tree planted in 1940 by Kiingitanga leader Princess Te Puea Herangi, on the first centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi signing. Princess Te Puea was the great granddaughter of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero – the first Māori King.

This site (the highest point of the cone of an ancient volcano) has special significance for the Kiingitanga, as Te Wherowhero once lived in a Pa here. Important tribal relationships were formed at this place, between the Waikato tribes, Ngāti Whātua and Ngāpuhi, during the establishment of the city of Tamaki Makarau (Auckland).

The carvings (representing the ancestral guardians of Pukekaroro, the volcanic cone) were removed in 2014 for restoration and renovation, returning to Pukekawa (Auckland Domain) three years later. A small ceremony was held on Saturday 24 June 2017. So small that it went unnoticed by many, including me.

The restoration was funded by Auckland Council, and was completed by master Māori carver Alan Nopera. Mr Nopera, who has been carving since 1955, says the Pukekaroro carvings are similar to those found on the front of a meeting house. They represent the children of Rangi and Papa.

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