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What’s in a name?
When I tried to get my passport- the Immigration lady said, “Sorry but Bruce Richard Stewart born in Hamilton on the 5th of August 1936 does not exist!” In the end I had to get school records and letters from my sisters and brother. Our mother had passed away. It was a year or so after our Mum had died that I gathered enough strength to open the letter she wrote me on her last night. It had disintegrated to bits- it was a long letter. I then read it so often I knew it by heart- both by what it said also by what it didn’t say. In the end its contents have permeated my life. Tapu Te Ranga Marae was born out of it…these are some extracts from it.
To my son Bruce. When you left hospital today without a kiss, I was sad because I have a strong feeling it’s the last time I’m going to see you and you know how my ‘strong feelings’ happen. I’m writing this letter because you are the most insecure of your sisters and brother with the hope that it will make you more secure. Don Stewart is not your natural father- Oh how I’ve longed to tell you that. His name was Fitzgerald and as soon as he knew I was pregnant- he took off. I couldn’t go home as it was forbidden to go with a pakeha because on our Tainui side there were many half-caste kids without fathers. My girlfriends helped me with your birth you were born outside- on the banks of the Waikato River at Hamilton. We took you up to the hospital to get registered- saying you came without warning. They asked us for father’s name and our address- we couldn’t reply properly. So we escaped from the hospital as soon as we could because we knew they’d take you off me and put you in a home. There were homes everywhere for children like you. We had to keep you hidden- you and I lived under the bridge or when it was really cold- sneaked into my girl-friend’s rooms who worked in a hotel.
Don Stewart was staying at the hotel while waiting for his job on a farm. We got on well together- he was a real gentleman. I thought he’d be put off once he knew of you- but he wasn’t. The Welfare people caught up with me. “We believe you have a child that is not supported?” “What are you talking about?” asked Don Stewart. “Sir- this has nothing to do with you!” “It has a lot to do with me as that baby is mine and I have a job with a house provided.” After they were gone my girlfriends with tears of joy gave him a big hug. He’s been a good father to you- he is very skilled and already you’ve learnt much from him. Your have a name from my side- Hirini. Don Stewart gave your Bruce Richard Stewart name.
I was a part of the Maori Renaissance- of the 60’s/70’s/80’s. I made contact with my Hirini side that arrived 22 generations ago at Maketu. I belonged to Nga Tama Toa. We stormed loudly into Members of Parliaments Offices with our demands. Tapu Te Ranga Marae was born out of those days.
As part of ‘the revolution’ many of us who had English names reverted back to their Maori names. Not me-even though I’m a whangai (adopted) I feel very much a Stewart. My main reason for keeping my Stewart name- is that Donald Lewis Stewart- put his hand up for Mum and I in our greatest hour of need.
Send off for Douglas McIntosh
Barbara’ I’m so sorry I haven’t been around at this time- but there’s no way this nearly eighty year old cripple could get my wheelchair up your steps. I’m glad Brenda and Klaus have been staying with you- it would be awful to be in that big house by yourself. It would feel so very empty. As I write this- that same empty feeling floods back- I was 17 you must’ve been just 13. I’d just come back from the hospital with Dad. You three kids were asleep- I woke you up and told you all that our Mum had died. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Dad was in no condition to tell you. Numb days followed numb days. Seemed like the heart had gone from our house- it was never the same…remember. Much water has passed under the bridge- we all went our different ways. I went strong to our Maori side and founded Tapu Te Ranga Marae. Our main Whare is Pare Hinetai o Waitaha- our Mum- I’ve gone back to live with her. When the old people come they talk to her, “Tena koe e kuia, tino ataahua koe, tino maahana koe!” “Greetings old lady, you are a beautiful and welcoming old lady.” That’s why I left a message for you to bring your Doug here- this Whare is yours. Sister have you ever experienced a Maori tangi- it is the most sensitive and complete system of fare welling our loved ones and at the same time supporting and comforting the bereaved. I did get a phone call to say he was going to the crematorium at Pukerua.
As we drove in it was good to hear the Bagpipes- it was like the Karanga- the wail of our Kuia. They were playing some kind of lament. First the bagpipes and then the Tartan- I straight away thought of your tane- Douglas McIntosh and Clan McIntosh. His Clansmen were there to support him. The Pipes must be the highest honor to a Scotsman. He had a warm family send off.
What I said in Maori was- ‘Great Chief …Lie there surrounded by your family…My Brother…Lie there while the sound of the pipes fill every corner… My Friend…Lie there and feel the tears of those closest. Go Brother… go to your highest mountain. Go my Friend…to that place where there is no pain. Go Great Chief…to the meeting place of the thousands. Go…Go…Go…
My brother-in-law Douglas McIntosh passed away 26th June 2014. He was married to my sister Barbara. He was fare welled- surrounded by friends and family with sound of the bagpipes and reading of poems and singing of songs. He has gone but his spirit displayed by his sense of humor will always be with us.
28th May ’14- Tapu Te Ranga Marae- Kia ora Dean- long time no hear or see. I’m dropping this note about an event that happened last Saturday. Do you remember Peter Sylvester- he with others planted native seedlings- he was oldest of all the regular volunteers. Well his care giver came to see me, “Peter’s last wish was to be buried with his trees- he didn’t have any children and he thinks of them as his children- is that okay?” “Yes of course- I haven’t got a short memory.” Normally a Marae Urupa is only reserved for whanau but here at Tapu Te Ranga our concept of whanau is wider. At the ceremony- part of what was said, “E Pita,Takoto I te taha o to Tamariki, Matai, Rimu, Kahikatea, Miro- takoto e te hoa takoto!” (Peter lie here beside your children- Matai, Rimu, Kahikatea, Miro- lie here my friend- lie here!”) I mentioned that Peter cut holes in the gorse and planted native seedlings. If we had sunny days with strong NW winds after the planting- Peter would bike around from Lyall Bay against the strong NW. Fill his pack with bottles of water and old carpet for mulch and 'to bottle-feed his babies.' While we were burying Peter- the native birds were loudly singing…they all knew...
E te hoa, e Pita moe mai roa i roto I the kopu o Papatuanuku- to Whaea. (My friend Peter- sleep your long sleep within the womb of our Mother- Papatuanuku.)
Kia ora Merelene- The South African Congress people were here- they stayed at Tapu Te Ranga-in the early eighties. They left their poster behind- it's in the Whare Kai- it's called AMANDALA and it's only just dawned on me that it's the name of the great man himself. Boy could they sing and dance-I can still hear and see them- absolute sound with rhythm like the magic of wind playing in the toetoe. It was the time of 'Halt all Racist Tours'. Merata Mita made a film called Patu. You can watch it on line. Merata was a special Maori Woman+film maker+activist. I can remember Tom Poata with a megaphone addressing some protesters before one of the South African football matches. 'Tonight many of you will have bruises- some of your blood will be spilt on the tarseal- but brothers and sisters remember this- history is on our side!!!
They've both crossed over- they've just been joined by the Man himself. What a meeting that'll be- more toitoi dancing in the wind stuff. Hero's blaze a path- so we who follow behind can find the way...love you Bruce
I happened to be at Lyall Bay beach when I heard the Government are to call tenders for the drilling of deep sea oil wells off our magnificent-pristine South Coast of Wellington. Suddenly the penny dropped-so that’s what the Seabed and Foreshore stuff is really about-the Government said us Maori wanted to stop Pakeha using the beaches But if They owned it, the rights of all New Zealanders’ would be protected. Their lie was the old ‘red herring trick’ to put us against each other so’s we wouldn’t notice that only weeks after the Act was signed-seabed areas the size of NZ had permits approved for prospecting.
But my reaction to them drilling for oil in our wonderful South Coast-‘this wild pure rugged place where I go each day to refuel the soul-this place where it is so close to get so far-my outdoor Cathedral-this place of extreme beauty way beyond words but it is also so so fragile-this place where I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with a new whanau of volunteer-kaitiaki as do parents protecting their teenage daughter………I saw nightmare images of our Lyall Bay beach covered black with oil- lines of local volunteers of all races in white overalls standing together shoulder to shoulder with rakes, shovels and wheelbarrows. Some were picking their way through hundreds of dead Penguins and Seagulls-hoping to find some barely alive to scrub-up and save. Dead fish including hundreds of Dolphins we South Coasters have seen lately-littered the beach-spewed up from our Tapu Te Ranga Marine Reserve (Wellington’s proudest jewel)
These images flashed up easily due to media coverage of the oil spill of Deepwater Horizon in The Gulf of Mexico and our own worst environmental disaster…the now happening Rena. Haven’t we learnt anything? The short term memory of John Key’s lot has been obliterated by the craze of the cash-crop mentality of black gold!
Seems with oil drilling there are no guarantees of safety as there have been oil spills at Taranaki and it’s only 120 m deep. We do have some figures to prepare for the aftermath: Rena cost of cleanup: $130 million-no dollars to pay out for the dead birds, fish, water and joe-public-volunteers-they’re collateral damage, a ‘sorry’ will fix it. Whereas Deepwater was 1500 m deep: cost of clean up: $42 billion- they had way more birds, fish, water and joe-public volunteers-no dollars were necessary as it’s was collateral damage-another ‘sorry’ kept it all respectable.
At 2750 m Wellington’s proposed drilling is heaps deeper plus it has had 4 earthquakes over 8 and is over due for a biggie-how would an oil rig stand up to that-followed by tsunami. Our buildings have to be built to stand quakes-what about oil rigs. It’s so far from the nearest help-out-rig the cost would be lots more- so if Deepwater was equivalent to a 20 litre spill and Rena a teaspoon-Wellington’s spill shapes up to be a tanker.
To be on the safe side John Key should ask for a ‘just-in-case’ deposit of saaaay $90 billion.
Of coarse once again dollars don’t cover the loss of penguins, fish and joe-public volunteers they’ll be part of the expected collateral damage another ‘sorry’ by someone important will fix it.
Oh…almost forgot…like how The Captain and First mate of The Rena were sent to jail because ‘sorry’ didn’t cut it anymore. Perhaps joe-public standing shoulder to shoulder could set up a Tribunal in the Lyall Bay Surf Club to bring to trial The Skipper who was responsible for Crimes against the Environment?
Bruce Stewart - Tapu Te Ranga Marae
There was a Maori girl in our class Rangi- she was full Maori, she came from a poor family. Her clothes were old but clean. She always sat at the back of our class.
She was picked on- especially by John Wright who pegged his nose every time she went past him with his thumb and forefinger pegging his nose right out in front of her- in loud way- kind-of-saying-she-stunk, nearly everyone copied him. Not me- deep down I respected her- she was proud to be full Maori and held her head high- that's what I liked about her.
John Wright and his mates placed a fake gold bracelet into clear pool with a muddy bottom and waited for Rangi to come home from school. John asked Rangi if she would like a gold bracelet and pointed to the one in the mud pond. When Rangi was bending over with a long stick trying to recover the bracelet she got pushed in.
There was trouble from her parents but nothing happened to John and his mates. They put a rough sign up at the mud hole it said; ‘Rangi’s Annual Mud (beauty) Bath!’
Our class did a trip to The South Island. We stayed at a camping ground in Picton. We visited an historical monument at Wairau called The Wairau Massacre. Our teacher said the monument was erected to commemorate how the unarmed- innocent- early settlers were murdered by Te Rauparaha and his men. I was in shock and frozen to the spot because my Mum said we had links to Te Rauparaha.
The whole class was also in some kind of awe because we were standing in a place where something real big happened and some way we were all connected to this 'Massacre'.
Not Rangi... “Excuse me Miss?” asked Rangi in a quite voice with her hand up.
“Yes Rangi,” replied the teacher.
“None of what you just told us is true,” said Rangi in her quite, shy, voice.
“So Rangi- you know better than our historians?” replied the teacher with a sniggery smile that gave everyone permission to snigger-smile at Rangi.
“Yes I do Miss- because my Nanny said, the settlers fired the first shot and killed the daughter of Te Rauparaha. Plus they were there to steal their land.”
The teacher said, “I would rather believe the educated historians who erected the monument. She said this Monument is really about bringing civilisation to an uncivilised and savage land.”
The class continued their sniggering at Rangi.
As I write this now I feel a little guilty because I should have supported Rangi- I'd do it now- I was too insecure then.
The Monument is no longer called- The Wairau Massacre. It's called- The Wairau Incident.
Plus history now backs the version of the Kuia of Rangi.
My dear mokopuna- this story of Te Rauparaha doesn’t finish there. Years later- in 1979 at our Tapu Te Ranga Marae I saw all the monuments of our colonisers erected all over Wellington City- Queen Victoria- Massey- Fraser- Seddon- Savage- Holyoak- Byrd- to name a few. I thought it would be a good idea to honour a great Maori Leader who'd been put down by generations of colonisers. Te Rauparaha who led a successful migration to Wellington- their descendants are still here. We bought up 3 ton kohatu (rock) from Te Waipounamu and Greg Brightwell- who was living at The Marae carved Them.
It was a huge task for our Tapu Te Ranga Whanau to haul it up to the top of our Maunga-Tawatawa.
We could have pulled them up with our tractor- the boys wouldn't hear of it- they were busting their guts but there was no thought of tractor- it was about raising our Tupuna High- they wanted to do it with their own hands. These Tupuna who stood staunch- shoulder to shoulder against the most powerful World Empire ever. They pulled and pushed their gun carriage- they were the horses- they heaved and hauled their rings out that day- there was no thought of giving up,- someone shouted- “ Toia Mai- Te waka- came the repy- Ki Te Urunga- Te Waka- Ki te Moenga- Te Waka- Ki Te Tokoto Ranga I Tokoto Ae- Te Waka!
It was blowing hard when we pulled Te Pouwhenua up the final ramp- we set them in place- Te Rauparaha was looking out to Kapiti and Te Rangihaeata was looking out to Tapu Te Ranga Motu. As soon as The Pou was in it's place the wind dropped- it was so sudden it was spooky.
In that quite still moment- Rangi, with her hand raised popped back into my head, “Excuse me Miss- none of what you've told us is True!”
I made enquires about Rangi- she passed over when was 36- they said that she never had a headstone plus there's disagreement as to where she's actually buried.
I'd like to put a little plaque on the base of that great pou...
TO RANGI...if I don't get around to it perhaps one of you could do it?
Mokopuna ma- The unveiling ceremony was conducted by the late Bill Parker- Uncle Bill, I remember a substantial quite man or should I say 'very quite' man who was always there- he had a nose for knowing where it was happening. We at Tapu Te Ranga were in 'the nobody’s' class as most of us had criminal records- that didn’t put off Uncle Bill he always appeared. The young people liked him- they accepted him in spite of his immaculate suits and bow ties because he was real. For years he was a lone voice for Maori on 2YA Radio- they gave him Doctorate on his death bed- and all I can say about that is better late than never. Miss you Uncle Bill- a lot.
Patrica Grace and her niece- were there- her niece is a descendant of Te Rangihaeata she was Te Puhi for the unveiling.
Mokopuna ma- as a boy, I often heard farmers working their dogs- if one wasn’t performing to the commands properly, they would scream, “You bloody lazy Marrie dog Raaag (dog’s name) I’ll beat the living shit outta when I get you, lazy Marrie barstard!!”
Or if the horse or tractor didn’t perform, it was a bloody Marrie horse or a Marrie tractor. If they didn’t like the colour of a house, it was a Marrie house’.
They were not saying it to put me down- I was family. It was more a way of speaking; nearly everyone spoke like that except my dad. I never heard him put anyone down, because he always stuck up for the underdog as he was one himself.
It was more like they didn’t see me as Maori- In a way I wasn’t- I’d worked really hard at trying to be a pakeha.
Though they could control their tongues…they never spoke ‘lazy-marrie-dog-stuff’ in front of my Mum.
Yet the continual ‘marrie’ talk did put me down. More especially coming from my uncles and cousins; because I loved them. They were the real good times in my life. The times of great learning. The exciting adventure and ‘boys own stuff’. They were my life. I don’t believe that were racist; they were those ‘innocent carriers’ I mentioned earlier. It has become my view that many people are carriers.
It did hurt because a small deep down part of me knew; no matter how strong I wanted to be pakeha…I was Maori. So the continual bombardment of the ‘marrie-factor’ really made me believe my Maori blood really was inferior because of all this negative hurtful stuff. No one said anything good about Maori.
It hurt also because in the time of stress when my uncles, older cousins and others were looking for words to express the deepest and lowest curse of all curses... they mixed, lazy, bloody and sometimes shit, and fuckin with marrie.
Mokopuna ma, I doubt my cousins still have the same talk...hopefully they’ve been exposed to the bigger picture.
It continued to be my mission, to find out…‘what happened’. What had Maori done to deserve such low status. Germans were not liked because of The 2ND World War and The Holocaust. Japanese were not liked for the same reason and torturing our soldiers in their prison camps.
However I never heard them shout 'you lazy barstard German dog!!'- their names were not used as a curse. As a teenager , I was absolutely convinced the Maori had done something far worse than the Germans or Japanese.
Mokopuna ma, if only I could have talked to someone. Mum was the only one I could talk to. Her answer was always the same, “I told you…leave it all alone…it’s far too big, if you keep going at this stuff it will crush you. Make the best of what there is. Better a few crumbs, than nothing at all.”
So I kept it inside and it grew and grew…even in my dreams I was always getting chased for some wrong I’d done. I could never remember the actual wrong…I’d be hunted by mobs of people and dogs…they’d be catching me up…I’d be running but I could hear the dogs getting closer. I’d be exhausted, that same hollow breathlessness kicked in. it was during one of those nightmares that my first contact with Aunt Pare happened.
While I was being hotly pursued this woman's yelled, “Let go…jump in...come on…let go…let go!!!” She yelled.
“Who are you?” I asked.
I’m your Aunt Pare! I’m the Moon! Trust me…Let go… quickly.” She yelled again.
“My Mum said she you were long gone…I’m not holding onto anything.” I yelled back.
“That’s only her mouth talking…deep down she knows I’m still around!
“What do you mean…only her mouth?” I yelled back.
“She and her brothers did set fire to the school! But after her conversion…their slate was wiped...clean as a whistle...can’t remember a thing…all the hara was taken away. They were converted...but not me Yelled Aunt Pare...I'm free...I want to stay free.
The Old Ones have asked me to come here tonight to tell you about this river that runs Deep and very wide. They're telling me to tell you to jump in- trust the River- for it knows where it's going- let go- jump now into this very wide and deep running river- jump now. Let go of the shore- The old ones said there will be those who want to hold onto the shore- to hold on will bring great harm-let go- let go- let the river take for the river knows where it's going. Trust in this River that runs deep and very wide.
She took my hand- let myself go-I took off-tumbling and twisting and flying- was caught in an current- It was flying. I left them all behind- the dogs the angry people- I soared into the night sky. I woke up having the feeling of a great escape. The feeling of soaring and tumbling- leaving all the pain and anguish behind- it all revisits me as I write.
At last I had someone to speak to- my bossy aunt Pare. She controlled me. At times I’ve been frightened of her power over me.
Big thanks Sir Michael Fowler- I remember when you were Major there was much criticism of your drive to demolish many
of Wellingtons’ earth quake prone buildings. In fact 90 buildings were demolished when you were at the helm.
There was also a major strengthening of many borderline buildings.
It is my view that the zero fatality toll with this latest 6.5 earth quake could have been a very different story.
Our First Hot Water We didn’t have any hot water for the first 10 years-well not the kind that comes out of a tap. To have showers, we lit a fire under a 44 gallon drum, then one had a choice of bath or shower-for shower one bucketed hot water into a smaller drum that was hanging off a tree- hoisted it up and turned on a tap that fed a ‘shower rose’- consisted of a jam tin with nail holes in the bottom. So it was a big day when we scoured some 2nd hand Hot Water Cylinders-took a few weeks to put it all together-we finished at 3am-threw the switch-and waited until daylight for our big moment.
These summer nights I sleep with my door open because it’s on the edge of our native bush reserve- so this extra sweet air wafts in plus there are often special sounds. Like the ones last night- a gentle wind rattled our chimes and a tui mimicked them with its own bongs and gongs almost the same sound as the metal chimes but with a distinctive tui accent.