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  • Ketia Pouwhare nee Kerei

    Born at Kaikokopu on the 30th May 1929 (her father was working at the flax mill at the time) Kui Ketia grew up at Te Paamu in their family homestead, number 5 of 12 siblings. Her parents were Moho Kerei and Rina Ngataiawhio. In those days all the whanau had huge kai gardens where potato, kumara, watermelon, kamokamo, pumpkin, sugar cane and maize were grown. Everybody would help plant and weed the plots and share the kai. We had fruit trees and some whanau farmed so we were very well fed. Some of the whanau living at Te Paamu were Richard and Te Okeroa (Ma and Pa Kettle), Charlie, Te Ari, Merepeka Ngaki, Teia and Jumbo, Mohi and Miria and Rupuha and Te Mama, the Rota and Hunuhunu whanau. The Kuia were Wikitoria, Wikawana, Te Akau and Nahi and the Koroua Marangai. Nahi and Marangai grew torori (tobacco). I started at Te Matai Native School when it originally stood beside the Church on Rangiuru Road. We just had to cross the valley and we were at school. In winter all the kids would look for the cow patties to warm our feet on the way to school. Before World War 2 the school was moved to Waitangi and I remember during the war two air-raid shelters were made at the school. (They were huge big holes dug in the ground). That’s where all the kids used to play. We made our own fun when we were kids. We would get the corrugated iron sheet and fold it up then slide down the hill. We would play with the tree tops and paint them silver, we had marbles and corks that we called beauts, we’d fill it with sand and flick them into the ring. We used to go to Sunday School at the Marae too when Mr Bowen came. I would only go to get a card. You read what was on it and then you got the big cards that’s what I went to Sunday School for the big cards! We spent a lot of time at the river. I was very small when I learned to swim. I just got chucked in the river and learned to dog paddle or sink! Aunty Hepo Ngapaki, Mummys sister lived at Te Matai. She would go to the river and sleep down there. We’d just throw a tarp or whatever over the willow trees for shelter. We went eeling with Aunty Hepo too. The girls would thread cotton through the worms and tie them to the end of a stick and drop them into the water. We used to catch heaps of eels. The boys would use the spears. I hated touching them cos they were so slimy. We’d take the eels home where they would eat them straight away. We would pawhara the big eels. Rupuha had a truck and we would go to Maketu and Waihi to get kaimoana. Sometimes with Ma Kettle we would go down on Boxing day. There were times when we would also catch the train to Tauranga from Rangiuru all the whanau would pack up their kai from Christmas and off we’d all go. When the whanaus grew bigger then we got buses and everyone would take their kai for a picnic. In the 1940s the Kuia Te Ono and Pateriki were working at Kaingaroa so a few of the whanau went down there to work. There was Olga, Heera, Minny, Martha, Wendy, myself and others. Hehe that was where we met our husbands (I married Kiwi Pouwhare and we went on to have 9 children). I remember some of the whanau that went to war then. There were the Tamihana brothers, Tommy, Nash, Robert and George Hori Kingi, Raumati and the O Callaghan's, quite a few went. I remember when the Queen came to visit in 1956. Ma Kettle, Kui Te Mama, Kui Te Akau, Olga and others were making piupiu. I tried to help. The piupiu were for the Tapuika concert party that were to perform in Rotorua. Our lifestyles were very different then they are today. Even the Marae. I remember in those days the paper would be rolled out on the ground and we’d use a kuku shell to eat with. Even in the wharenui they would whai korero where they stood. I hope our iwi will help our whanau but it has to start in the home first.

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