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Kaura ki te pakanga (2). 

Chapter 2 

Tapere-nui-a whatonga

(Rangitukia Native School) 

Kaura was 6 years old when dad sadly passed away on 16 October 1954, I was 5 and Mahiti was 4. Mum was left to carry the load. Fortunately we had older brothers who were old enough to work the farm. Being the oldest, Joe Joe was appointed Manager of the farm and John and June provided help. 

Although I was only 5 years of age, I still recall the day our father passed away. 

We all attended Rangitukia Maori district school, Kaura, Derna, Douglas, Rua and I. Five of the Fox whanau at one school, how impressive. Just imagine what mum had to put up with. The following year Mahiti joined us and Rua departed for Putaruru training farm school. Then Douglas departed the following year for Papakura high school where he stayed with Mary at 413 Old Wairoa Road. Papakura. 

I still recall those days walking to Maraehara woolshed to catch the bus to school. 

Mahiti, Kaura and I were about 5, 6 and 7 years old, walking from Porahu to Maraehara in the middle of winter, sub-zero temperature, no shoes, every small puddles of water were frozen hard, white frost blanketed the ground and sun was yet to appear. 

School shorts with patches and short sleeve shirt was all our mum could afford.

They were hard times, we were tough and we did not have any other choice. Our feet was protected with thick callous (Patio) often referred to as Raupa. 

The first climb after the first river crossing was an obstacle for us, especially for Mahiti. Kaura and I also found it challenging. 

Derna who would often be far in front would egg us on. “Kia mama ta koutou haere, kore ka kinikinitia a koutou taringa e au!”

“You three had better move faster, else I will pinch your ears!”  

Derna’s threat to massage our ears quickened our steps, we were all aware of how painful it was to have our ears pinched on a very cold and icy morning. 

As we edged slowly toward the top of the hill, the sun began to peer over the top of the higher peaks to welcome us. To one side we could see mum down below in the cold, iced up paddock waving out and her faint voice could still be heard calling out “Kia tere ta koutou haere, kei mauhue kotou i ta koutou pahi”

“You all better hurry up, or you will miss your bus”  

As we ascended the other side, mum would return to the homestead to begin yet again her onerous chores.    

At Maraehara we would board our bus with the Ngata kids, Haupai, Api, Hori, Miriama and others. 

We had different bus drivers during our time attending Rangitukia primary school. Koro Dewes was popular. He would wait an extra 10 minutes for the Porahu Foxes when we were running late. 

Others did not care. Missing the bus means walking back to Porahu to report to mum.  

This we enjoyed because we were bush people and would disappear into the bush all day playing “Tarzan” swinging from one tree to another using vines like Tarzan and making Bows out of supple-Jack (Pirita) and arrows out of kakaho from the swamp. (This was more fun for us than going to school) 

Often however, Derna would not come home, but would walk to Rangitukia primary school to get an education. 

Derna was the next to leave. She went on to Ngata College (Could have been Manutahi at the time) Derna would often stay with our uncle Eddie Wards place in Ruatoria. 

This gave us (Kaura, Mahiti and I) the freedom to do what we like in as far as going to school was concern. 

During the winter months, when the creek was high after a sudden down pour mum would ‘piggy-back’ us across the first creek. Mahiti first, followed by me and last of all Kaura.

Kaura would try and make mum fall into the creek so that his school clothes would get wet and we would not have to go to school. But our mum was a strong person both in will and in body.

As she did every other year, mum waited until we had disappeared over the hill before she would return to the homestead. 

But as we disappeared over the hill, school and education was the last thing on our mind. I would say to Mahiti and Kaura, “How about we go opossum hunting instead of going to school?”

In the afternoon we would return home with one and on some occasions two baby opossums. 

Mum would say, “where did you kids get that baby opossum from?” 

I would immediately say. “Oh, on our way back from school we came across it walking in the bush. Its mother must have deserted it” 

Little did mum know, we spend all day in the bush hunting opossums. We chased the baby opossum’s mother from tree to tree through the thick bush until we cornered it and killed it. The baby we brought home for pet. 

One day mum received a phone call from the headmaster. “May! Your children have not been to school for the past 3 weeks, is everything ok?” 

I was the ringleader and got a good growling from mum. She never hit us like our older brothers or nipped our ears like our sister Derna. 

Often we would invite some school friend to the Porahu for the weekends. Mum was ok with this. 

I recall us inviting Dick Taare (son of Bella and Hihi Taare) one weekend.  

We would organise a war game which we call cowboys and Indians. Generally the cowboys are the victors and the Indians the losers.  

Mahiti, Kaura and I always insist being the Indians. We were skillful Indians and well trained and prepared.

 

The week prior to the weekend our friends  were coming, we would prepare our bows and arrows.  

We would say to Dick,

“You can be the cowboy and we the Indians, you have to come out into the bush and hunt us down, if you catch us you can belt us, but this will give us the right to defend ourselves”.

Mahiti, Kaura and I would disappear into the bush adjacent to the homestead, about 15 minutes later Dick would come after us. 

The forest with its thick undergrowth and high native trees straddled with vines and supple-jack (Pirita) provided the protection we required.

Camouflaged with fern leaves and armed with a flexible bow and accurate arrows with 4 inch rusty nail tips, we were a deadly foe.

Kaura who would be hiding in the thick undergrowth nearby would be the first to call out and give cheek to Dick. (Mauria mai o waewae pirahirahi ki konei ke whatiwhatitia e au” “Bring your skinny legs here so I can break them”

(Like all the Taare kids’ Dick had skinny legs)

This would infuriate Dick and make him more determine to come after us in vengeance.

As Dick edged his way towards Kaura, I would take aim and let fly. I could hear a blood curdling scream as my arrow found its target into Dick’s buttocks.

As he turned towards my direction, Mahiti would fire another arrow from his hidden position.  

This deadly response stunned our enemy. He gave up without a fight. Dick ran back to the homestead to report to mum and show her his injuries.

All of a sudden we could hear this voice deep within the forest, our mum.

 

“Kia tere ta koutou hoki mai kite kaenga, ko reri te tina. He rawa no ta koutou mahi kia Dick”

“You all better hurry back home, lunch is ready. You should not have done that to Dick” 

As we ascended from our hiding places with our weapons and camouflage mum would be waiting for us.

Kaura asked mum “Kei hea a Dick?” “Where is Dick?”

Mum replied, “Ko hoki ke aia kite tona kaenga, mataku aia kei hemo aia ia koutou te patu” “He has gone back to his own home, he is frighten that your three might kill him” 

Our enemy had departed, but we needed to maintain and up skill ourselves, so we went out shooting birds. First were the Kingfishers who would be perched high on trees or on nearby fence posts. Fantails were a challenge because of their agility. 

I will end chapter 2 here and will continue with chapter 3 at a later date.

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