Copied from St Mary’s Church Information Board

To the Glory of God and in memory of the Maori people of Taranaki who died during the conflicts1860-1870 this memorial was unveiled by His Excellence the Administrator, the Right Honourable Sir Reverend Wild, KCMG, and the Honourable Duncan MacIntyre, DSO,OBE, ED, Minister of Maori and Island Affairs, and dedicated by the Archbishop of New Zealand, the Most Reverend A.H. Johnston, LLD, LTH, on September 24 1972.

The symbol, surrounded by hatchments and other memorials of the Imperial regiments, which fought at the time, affirms that there were two sides to the issues involved, and expresses sadness that the differences resulted in bloodshed. Its carved figures tell of two warring tribes, which were reconciled through the love of two young people. By mutual acceptance of the God of Love, the two peoples, Maori and Pakeha, can live together in common respect and peace.

On April 28 1904, a number of the hatchments were unveiled by the then Governor General, Lord Ranfurly, the then Native Minister, the Honourable J. Carroll, and other dignitaries. Bishop Neligan of Auckland dedicated them. Captain R.F. Scott, R.N., later to die at Antarctica, was also present.

The figure to the left depicts Chief Rangi-apiti-rua, of the Ngati Awa who led a taua from the pas Puke-ariki (where the Taranaki Museum now stands) and Pukaka (Marsland Hill) to besiege Whakarewa pa (near the Puniho marae). He was accompanied by his warrior son, Takarangi. Defending the Whakarewa pa was Rangi-a-runga, seen on the right. He was the father of beautiful Raumahora. The attack on the pa was unsuccessful, but the besieged people had no water. Takarangi decided to carry a calabash of water from a nearby spring to quench the thirst of Rangi-ra-runga and his daughter. The young couple were captivated by each other, as the central pillar shows. They married, and the two tribes never again fought each other. Descendents of this marriage played a prominent part in subsequent history in New Zealand.

The numerical strength and spiritual awareness of the people of both areas is demonstrated in the tukutuku panels, worked in the purapurawhetu pattern (myriad of stars). The kowhaiwhai paintings rising from each panel contain spiritual elements and characteristics of ancestors represented- the stately strength of Te Rangi Ra Runga,: the uncoiling of the lovers closeness reaching up to their ancestors and down to their descendents, the waves of the sea of Kupe that beat upon Rangi –ra-runga at Whakarewa. The upper pattern symbolises the sacred mountain, Taranaki, given a modern significance by the cross depicted within it. The whole concept is supported on the lower carving which represents the two canoes, Tokomaru and Kurahoupo, of the Ngati-Awa and Taranaki.

The carvings were conceived and executed by Mr. John Ford of Hamilton, the tukutuku panels by the ladies of the St Mary’s, instructed by Mrs. M. Crawford of Opunake; the mat was made by the Institute of Maori Art and Craft of Whakarewarewa, and the cost borne by a number of local families, some of whose forebears played a prominent role in the early history of New Zealand.