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Te Iharaira Houkamau Pokiha (Joe Fox Snr)

Te Iharaira (Joe) Fox was a discipline man who dressed well and liked a good-looking horse. He and his wife, Waimatao, had no children of their own but adopted Joe and Himiona Clarke and Mate Ngata. It is Mate, Mrs Kaiwai, that we are indebted for the following information about Te Iharaira Fox.

Te Iharaira Houkamau Pokiha, son of Hata Pokiha and Makarita (Jose) Manuera was named after Te Iharaira Houkamau.

As a young man he worked all over the place and at one time was in Whakaki where he befriended people like Hemi Pititi, Hemi Huata, Patu Te Rito and other elders of the  Wairoa-Mahia area. Te Iharaira attended, for a time, the Waerenga-a-hika College, in Gisborne, and I think that is where his skills in reading and geography stemmed from. Speaking of geography, during the Second World War, as news came over the radio (Wireless as it was known then) he knew exactly where the war areas were situated.

I was told that the first place he managed was Taumata-o-manu, a place belonging to his half sister, Moewha Hayes. For some reason or other, the place was sold under his feet. Imagine his embarrassment as the new owners arrived. “Him telling me!”, he found it quite unforgivable. I think that is why he went to Wairoa.

His early marriage I have no idea, but he had a daughter who died as an infant, by the name of Mereana. Te Iharaira came back to Whareponga and there he and Heneriata Te Waimatao Karaka were matched and married.

At that time the Horoera block was being cut up into farming units.,…from Horoera, Kiwikiwi, Te Arawhata, Waitaiko and Porahu. Paratene Ngata asked him to go to Porahu and he said, “Why! are you putting me on another runaway horse?” Paratene said, “Go, that’s yours  and there, one day, you will be laid to rest!” And that is the case.

Of course, when the land was broken in my Grandmother helped to cut down trees. The stock was given by the Williams family and no time limit for repayments were set. If it was a good year, the payment went accordingly. A poor year and the repayments was less. The struggle was on and the year it was repaid he bought a car. The time of settlement would be in  the First World War years.

Te Iharaira was an honest farmer. Strangers (Sheep & Cattle) were carefully returned to owners and vice versa. Young John Fox would be the first adopted child and he was the shepherd between the farms, driving the strangers to and from at threepence (3 cents) a head . . . big money!

Te Iharaira never went to church but was a generous giver. We had our own Karakia (Prayer Service) every evening . . . We knew many hymns long before we could read. Te Iharaira longed for an infant (female) to take on his deceased daughter’s  place. He asked two of  his relations who agreed to give him a girl infant to replace baby Mereana, but at birth they broke their promise. So enough! Then he asked my mother, Arihia. When I was born I was named Mate Huatahi (the first born who died) At four days old I left my home with my Papa and Nanny together with a cow and calf as foster  milk supplier. Then later we had another whangai (Adopted) Waina Green, Whareraima Pahau. He died overseas, (Florence - Italy). We all lived happily together, I being the spoilt one, but I never played on it. I shared  everything.

My Papa was a great orator. When he spoke he gave it to them in a nice way, right between the eyes. He was very witty. When he spoke at a marae the cooks dropped tools and came to listen. He went with Sam Ngarimu and Maraea to a reception at Lower Hutt with General Freberg. He represented Ngatiporou.

Te Iharaira was a great supported of Apirana Ngata together with Pine Tibble, Syd Haig, Renata Ngata, Hone Ngata, who farmed all along the Maraehara river. When ever Api had a project, building a wharenui or a trip somewhere, they agree to whatever financial help was required of them. There were others but I just mentioned the Maraehara lot.

When Joe Fox (Junior) ‘Hoterene Karaka’ and Edith May Hovell were married they reared a big family, all Maori-speaking palefaced Maori. We all spoke Maori. Our Papa would tell us stories, one being  “Red Cloud” Te Ao Whero that was told in serious form. Believe me, the dishes were washed swiftly to await the next chapter. He was a good story-teller. He never had to hit us, but one word, we hopped. No one dare answer back. There are oodles to tell, but we loved our Papa. The day he left us, 20 November 1950, we felt that our world had fallen to bits. He and our Nanny lie side by side at the Porahu.

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