Kaura ki te
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I will end chapter 2 here and
will continue with chapter 3 at a later date.