Bay of Islands, New Zealand – 1 July June 2014
In a ceremony beginning at Opua Hall, Te Pou o Opanui was recently returned to the traditional lands of Te Uri Karaka and Ngati Manu on the Kororareka Peninsular where it will once again guard an ancient wahi tapu.
Carried on the shoulders of Te Uri Karaka and Ngati Manu youth and men Te Pou o Opanui was reverently escorted by kaumatua, kuia, and tangatawhenua, across the Waikare River to Okiato via Fullers/Intercity ferry, to its final resting place on the foreshore of Pipiroa. Originally dedicated and placed at Pipiroa in 2002, in 2003 it was desecrated and cast into the ocean and drifted to Moturoa where it was recognized and subsequently returned to the hapu.
Today, Te Pou o Opanui stands at Pipiroa symbolically reflecting its recent history for all to see and remember.
Originally ochre and black, Te Pou o Opanui is now a vibrant blue with bright red teeth while the ngārara or lizard entwined around it is bright green. These new colours honour its ocean journey and are a contemporary reminder of its guardianship of an ancient burial site of significance: where bodies were prepared and placed in the karaka trees that once grew there; and from which the hapu name of Te Uri Karaka originates.