Located approximately ten minutes drive from Hamilton city, Ngaruawahia is the home of Turangawaewae Marae, the official residence of the Maori King. A picturesque town surrounded by the magnificent Hakarimata ranges and the meeting place of two of New Zealand’s famous rivers - the mighty Waikato river and the Waipa river.
With a population of over 5,000 people, Ngaruawahia is located within the greater tribal boundaries of the Waikato people and specifically the sub-tribe area of Ngati Mahuta, the sub-tribe from which the first Maori King Potatau Te Wherowhero belonged. Ngaruawahia has a unique history and was once considered the capital of New Zealand for a short period of time. It has experienced a time of turbulence, especially following the confiscation of many Maori lands during the mid to late 1800’s.
“Ko Arekahanara toku haona kaha,
Ko Kemureti toku oko horoi.
Ko Ngaruawahia toku Turangawaewae.”
“Alexandra (now Pirongia) will be a symbol of my strength of character
Cambridge a wash bowl of my sorrow
and Ngaruawahia my place to stand”
These famous words were spoken by Kingi Tawhiao, the second Maori king as he stood at the grave of his father in Ngaruawahia.
The words of Kingi Tawhiao would have a profound effect on his people and their future. At that time, the government had confiscated the majority of Waikato lands propelling the people into a whirlwind of despair and isolation. Kingi Tawhiao looked to re-establish Ngaruawahia as the capital of the kingitanga (‘king movement’) to help restore the loss of his people’s mana (‘power’). This challenge would later be met by the indomitable spirit behind the establishment of Turangawaewae and rebuilding this future - Te Puea Herangi, the grand-daughter of Kingi Tawhiao.
The Kingitanga and Turangawaewae Marae played a crucial role in the Raupatu land settlement achieved by the Tainui Maori Trust Board in 1995 which led to the establishment of Waikato-Tainui (‘mandated iwi organisation of the Waikato people’). Other iwi followed in their footsteps and many land claims have been settled across New Zealand since then. These claims have provided iwi with an opportunity to invest in programmes that lead to the empowerment of their people and today Waikato-Tainui are now a powerhouse in the cultural, social, environmental and economic fabric of New Zealand society. It is one of the most inspiring chapters in New Zealand history.
Turangawaewae Marae continues to stand as a symbol of strength and unity for all Maori, a continual reminder of the determination and unswerving loyalty of the people towards a much greater purpose.
Today Turangawaewae is a physical representation of the kingitanga and a constant symbol of how a people can rise against adversity and reclaim their mana.
“Mehemea ka moemoeaa au, ko au anake. Mehemea ka moemoeaa taatou, ka taea e taatou”
“If I am to dream, I dream alone. If we all dream together, then we will achieve” – Te Puea Herangi