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Kia ora Rangatira - what's your story?

Posted 14 July 2018 by Gold FM in History, Arts & Culture

Michael Weir was commissioned by the Hauraki District Council to create the bronze lifesize Rangatira for the Waihi Streetscape 2000 Sculptures, a lasting landmark for the Waihi community to be proud of.

Locals and visitors come across the Rangatira when they visit Waihi and with Matariki celebrations fresh in our minds we thought it would be good to find out more about the background of the Rangatira.

Brian Gentil welcomed John McIver, the Hauraki District Council Community Engagement Manager into the Gold FM studio to talk about the Rangatira statue that overlooks Waihi.

John McIver said prior to the statue being installed the concept was developed to recognise and acknowledge the contribution Maori made to the development of this community. He said Maori were here and established in this community long before the gold diggers arrived. 

Putting the Rangatira in place played a part in bringing back the heritage that was here, in a positive way.
A number of people, including the Mayor at the time, and in particular Sel Baker a Hauraki District Councillor, and iwi like the late Nuki Tukaki and the late Kiwi Nichols, thought it was appropriate to put 'a mark in the ground' to acknowledge the Maori presence and contribution to this place.

In the early days when locating Te Rangatira, it was decided he had to be higher than any other monument in the area to mark his status. 
He was to be above the PumpHouse so that the Pumphouse didn't cast a shadow over him. He also had to face a particular way, in this case, the South West and look upon Te Aroha, the other maunga (mountain) that is significant to Maori. 

The way he faces is also deliberate in that the Rangatira turns his back on the mining activity. John McIver said statements were being made in his location.

When the Cornish PumpHouse was relocated the Rangatira was also relocated so that he is still higher than the PumpHouse.

John talked about the sculptor, Michael Weir, and how he was chosen. He also said the sculptor came up with concepts that required John to stand still for many hours so that his physical prowess could be sculpted. Kaumatua and kuia visited the build site to bless the work and the sculpture and ensure that the protocols and fine details in terms of the cloak, the carving and everything done were authentic.

Legend has it that when the Rangatira struck the ground with his taiaha and water came gushing out he cried out "Waihihi", which is how the area became named. Waihihi - gushing water.

The physical stance of the Rangatira was deliberate, with the taiaha in one hand and his mere in the other - all details that were carefully thought out.

Photos: Te Rangatira in his domain.
Former Councillor Sel Baker with the Rangatira at Waihi Community Marae
The Rangatira at his original site
Former Hauraki District Mayor Basil Morrison introduces the Rangatira to an overseas guest.

Click play to hear the full interview with John McIver