The Land’s Story

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Our Land’s Story | How it all came about

Te korero mo te hunga i haere mai i mua i a tatou:

Our land’s story begins with the legend of Kupe. The legend tells that Kupe and his tribe had trouble competing for fishing grounds in Hawaiki. This was because an octopus belonging to Kupe’s rival, Muturangi, prevented Kupe from catching any fish. Kupe chased the octopus across the sea until Hine-te-Aparangi, the wife of Kupe, called out that she saw a long cloud in the distance, indicating that there would be land. Hence, Aotearoa was discovered and christened, ‘the land of the long white cloud’.

Kupe, guided by the shine of a mountain, pulled into the Hokianga Harbour, less than 100km away from Huanui. Here, he stayed and became equipped for his journey back to Hawaiki. After Kupe returned to Hawaiki, voyagers Nukutawhiti and Ruanui set off to make the first colonies of Aotearoa. It is estimated that they arrived in Aotearoa in 1350 AD, and soon after, they became violently divided. Peace was met in the North; however, Rahiri, a descendant of Kupe and Nukutawhiti, divided the land of the Hokianga and Taumārere among his sons Uenuku and Kaharau. Legend says that he did this by letting the will of the wind guide a kite named Tuhoronuku, allowing the string to create the borders. Thereafter, Rahiri forged an alliance system that spanned from Hokianga to the Bay of Islands. This alliance system eventually formed into the tribe of Ngāpuhi.

Settling the Land

As a part of this expanse of tribal control, the Pehiaweri settlement was built in modern-day Glenbervie. During the musket wars in the 1820s, the Ngāpuhi tribe defeated several tribes and expanded at a time when most tribes were declining. They developed strong ties with Europeans in trade, and were positioned in a vital spot for European contact as they had control of the Bay of Islands. The Ngāpuhi power began to slip, however, after Hone Heke’s protests of colonial power in 1845-46 resulted in a war between Ngāpuhi and the British. This was despite 43 Ngāpuhi chiefs signing the Treaty of Waitangi. Ngāpuhi lost 72,000 hectares of land to the Crown. From 1865, a further 201,000 hectares were confiscated and given to the Native Land Court. Today, there are close to 130,000 people who affiliate with the Ngāpuhi iwi, which makes them a powerful presence in New Zealand culture.

Farming the Land

In 1873, the Huanui farm was formed by the Hutchinson family. The farm produced honey, dairy, beef, chaff, and fruit from the orchard. In WWII, the area was temporarily converted from farmland to a G5 army base. As the Japanese forces were taking island after island in the Pacific, the Allies were preparing for a possible invasion of New Zealand. Any invasion needed to be prevented as the country could supply the Japanese army with valuable resources. The dry stone walls that skirt the roads alongside the College were constructed by Dalmatian immigrants who had fled modern-day Croatia from both the travails of WWI and the Great Depression. Rocks from these walls are believed to have originated from the Puketotara volcano near Kerikeri. These walls are now an iconic symbol of the Glenbervie countryside.

Conception of Huanui College

Huanui College was established on the 8th February, 2010 and was officially opened by the Honourable Heather Roy and Mayor Stan Semenoff on March 10, 2010 at the College Opening Day, and was blessed by the Reverend Hake Parata and me ngā tāngata whenua o Pehiaweri Marae.

The school came about by the vision of its founder Mr Evan Hamlet. Evan, originally from Dargaville, established the College to provide high-quality independent education. The College aims to develop student’s talents and abilities in a learning environment that encourages excellent attitudes toward learning. As well as a life within a caring community that involves parents in their children’s education. As our school has reached beyond the end of its first decade of existence, we can reflect on the nature of time and its passing. You may forget the trivial and mundane, instead focusing on monumental moments which tell a story and may be easily digested.

The true nature of time, however, is far more complex than the stories we choose to tell ourselves. Such stories often leave out the humanity of those involved, making us feel distant and helping us see ourselves separate from those of the past when in reality, we are connected. Do not forget that “our” is not a reference to those living but refers to the community that has been built, spanning generations and cultures. The challenge is to see yourself as temporary, yet send your story on to the future from the place we all share: this land. 

Written by Cuchalain Howard, Head Boy, 2020
Edited by Takaimaania Ngata-Henare, Head Girl, 2023

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