Kōrero: Vercoe, Henry Te Reiwhati

Whārangi 1: Haurongo

Vercoe, Henry Te Reiwhati

1884–1962

Nō Ngāti Pikiao; he kaieke hōiho, he hōia, he kaipāmu, he kaiārahi hapori

I tuhia tēnei haurongo e Whakahuihui Vercoe,, ā, i tāngia tuatahitia ki Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Ko te wāhanga , 1996.

Ko te āhua nei i whānau a Hēnare Te Reiwhati Wēko (Henry 'Harry Ray' Vercoe) i Maketū, i Te Moana-a-Toi (Bay of Plenty) i te 21 o Hūrae o te tau 1884. Ko ia te tamaiti tuatoru a ōna mātua, arā, a Ngāhuia Te Ahoaho rāua ko tana tāne, ko Hēnare Wēko (Henry Vercoe), he kairūri nei tana mahi. He toronga nō tōna whaea a Ngāti Pikiao me Ngāti Tuarā o Te Arawa. I Maketū a Te Reiwhati e noho ana i te taha o ōna matua, ā, i te nohonga atu ki Paengaroa āta kawekawea ana a ia e tana kuia, e Kataraina Wēko (Catherine Wēko).

Kāre kau a Te Reiwhati i haere ki te kura. Tae noa ki te wā i tonoa ia ki Waikato hei ākonga ki te mahi pāmu i te taha o tana matua kēkē, o Hōri Wēko (George Vercoe), kātahi anō a ia ka akona. Kotahi tau, nuku atu rānei ia e whakaakona ana e tētehi kaiako ā-whare, ā, mau ana hoki i a ia ngā tikanga o te whakahaere pāmu, whakatipu kararehe hoki. He aronui nōna ki tēnei mea, ki te hōiho, ka noho ko te whare o ngā hōiho rēihi me ngā hōiho pekepeke o tōna pāpā, tāna i ngākaunui ai. Puta ana tōna toa ki te ekeeke hōiho, tākaro patu paoro i runga hōiho. Kitea ana hoki tōna māia ki ngā mahi tākaro katoa, i te whakatūnga i a ia hei toa mō ngā All Blacks i te tau 1905, ahakoa rā kāre i wātea ki te haere. Nō te tau 1914, ka purei ia mō te tīma o ngā Māori All Blacks. I tū anō ia ki te tākaro mō te tīma o te Rōpū Paionia Māori i te tau 1919.

He pārekareka nōna ki te eke hōiho te take i whakauru atu ia ki te ope hōia tūao mau raiwhara eke hōiho o Tauranga (Tauranga Mounted Rifle Volunteers). Nō te wā o te Pakanga i Āwherika ki te Tonga, ka titoa e ia e hia ōna tau, kātahi ka whakauru atu ki te Ope Tuawhitu i Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) i te 3 o Āperira o te tau 1901. E rua ngā hōiho pekepeke i hoatu e tana pāpā mōna, ā, nō te 6 o Āperira ka wehe atu ia me ōna hōiho mā runga kaipuke. Nōna i māia ai i Āwherika ki te Tonga, ka hau te rongo. Nō tētehi wā, e whakaruru ana tana rōpū i roto i tētehi maioro, ka whakaekea rātau e ngā Poa, ka taui mai a Te Reiwhati mā. Nā te pōhēhē noa ka mahue tētehi o rātau, ā, ahakoa te karawhiu o te matā me te tohutohu a ōna rangatira kia kaua e haere, ko te hokinga atu tēnā o Te Reiwhati ki te tiki i tōna hoa taotū; i a rāua tahi e rere mai ana i runga i tō rāua hōiho, hūpekea ana e Te Reiwhati te pātatara. Nō tētehi wā anō, i rere ai a Te Reiwhati me ōna hoa e rua, nō Niu Tīreni tahi rātau, ki te whakaora i ngā hōia tokorua kua makere kē mai i ō rāua hōiho, noho mārakerake ana ki te taipara a te hoariri, nuku atu i te kotahi rau te nui o ngā raiwhara. I kite tonu a Kānara R. S. Garratt i tō rātau toa, ā, tūtohutia ana e ia kia pānuitia te whakanui i a rātau ki i roto i ngā whakatakataka.

E rua ngā tohu – ko te Mētara o te Emepaea mō Āwherika ki te Tonga (Imperial South African War Medal), me te Mētara a te Kuini mō Āwherika ki te Tonga (Queen's South African Medal) – i tukua ki a Te Reiwhati. Kua hoki kē ia ki Aotearoa i te marama o Hūrae o te tau 1902, ā, nō te 26 o Ākuhata i whāwāteangia mai ia e te tari o ngā hōia. Ka hoki anō ia ki tana mahi pāmu i ō rātau whenua i Paengaroa me Maketū, ā, nō te 23 o Mei o te tau 1905, ka moe ia i a Mary Aver Barnett i Ōhinemutu; tokorima nuku atu pea ā rāua tama me ngā tamāhine tokorua i tipu i a rāua; ko te āhua nei, tokorua ā rāua tamariki e taiohi tonu ana ka mate. E tata atu ana pea ki te tau 1930 ka whai wahine tuarua anō a Te Reiwhati, arā, ko Rangiteremoana Karaka tōna īngoa, he mea whakamoe rāua ki tā te Māori tikanga; kāore ā rāua tamariki.

Nō te pakarutanga o te Pakanga Tuatahi, ka hoki anō a Te Reiwhati ki te whawhai. Nō Oketopa o 1914 tana hainatanga mō te ope hōia Māori; i te marama o Noema ka whakatūria ia hei haehana; nō Pēpuere o te tau 1915, ka whakawhiti ia ki tāwāhi, ā, tae atu ana ki Te Hūhi (Suez) i te 26 o Maehe. Taka rawa ki Hune, ka whakatūria a Te Reiwhati hei haehana-meiha. Nā te mea i uaua te tuku atu a te kāwanatanga i ngā Māori ki te whawhai – ko tētehi take hoki nā te kore i pai o ngā mana whakahaere kia whakapakangatia te hunga kiri parauri ki te hunga kiritea – whakanōhia kētia ana ki Merita (Malta), he tautiaki raihe te mahi. Nō konei, ka hua te whakaaro o te tangata, he hanga kapa haka kē te mahi a ngā Māori, he whakangahau manuhiri kē te mahi i pahure i a rātau, kāore i tōtika mō te whawhai. Kāti koa mau tonu tā rātau mahi ki te tirira me te whakaako i a rātau, me te mate anō i te pukuriri ka rongo nei kua tae kē ō rātau hoa ki Karipori (Gallipoli), kite tonu ana i te hunga taotū e taetae ake ana ki ngā hōhipera i Merita.

Nā te kaha patua haeretia o ngā hōia o te rōpū Anzac, te take kātahi anō ka tonoa atu te Ope Māori hei tautāwhi i te ope taua o Niu Tīreni, e heke ana te tokomaha. He mea whakatū atu rātau ki te taha o te piriketi eke hōiho mau raiwhara o Niu Tīreni (New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade), ā, nō te 3 o Hūrae o te tau 1915, tō rātau ūnga atu ki te wāhi e mōhiotia ana i nāianei ko te koko o Anzac (Anzac Cove). Ahakoa he mea taotū a Te Reiwhati i te 8 o Ākuhata, i noho tonu ia ki te whawhai. Nō tana matenga i te weu whēkau i te marama o Hepetema, ka haria ki te hōhipera i Mudros (Moúdros) , ā, nō te oranga ake, ka tonoa ki te hokowhitu hīkoi o Pōneke (Wellington Infantry Battalion). He toa, he rangatira nōna i te pae o te pakanga i whakahuatia ai tōna īngoa i roto i ngā pānui kōrero; ko te tuatahi tēnei, ka toru hoki i muri mai, tae atu ki te whakatūnga ōna hei rūtene tuarua.

Nō Āperira o te tau 1916, i muri mai i te whawhaitanga i Karipori, ka tonoa te Rōpū Paionia o Niu Tireni (New Zealand Pioneer Battalion – kua oti te whakatū atu rā ki roto ki te Ope Hōia Māori) ki Parani. I te kauhanga riri ka taotū anō a Te Reiwhati. He ruarua nei ngā whakatairanga anō i a ia, ā, noho rawa ake ana hei kāpene i Oketopa o te tau 1917. He mea kawe e ia te tūranga ngārahu o te kamupene tekau mā ono, he wāhanga nō te matua hīkoi o Ākarana (Auckland Infantry Regiment), tae noa atu ki te marama o Hūrae o te tau 1918; nō te 23 o Hūrae ka whakawhiwhia ia ki te tohu whakahōnore DSO. E rua ngā tononga kia whakawhiwhia a ia ki te Rīpeka Wikitōria, ēngari kāre i whiwhi. Ko tā te Rōpū Paionia tana tino mahi he noho hei kaimahi ki te kari i ngā rua me ngā wharepaku ka tahi, hei kaitiaki, kaitaitai mō ngā hōiho, pononga hoki mā ngā āpiha, ka rua. Ahakoa anō, ka nui kē te aituātanga o ngā Māori, ā, nā tērā i whakahaua ai e Meiha Tianara Andrew Russell, te ngārahu o te Whare o Aotearoa (New Zealand Division), kia whakaōritea te nui o ngā mētara ki ngā Māori ki ō ērā o ngā hokowhitu hīkoi. Kitea rawatia ake, i iti kē iho tā ngā Māori i whiwhi ai.

I mua i te whakahokinga mai o Te Reiwhati ki Niu Tīreni i te 26 o Hūrae o te tau 1918, i Peretānia ia mō tētehi wā poto. Nō tana hokinga mai, ka pōwhiria ia e ngā mana whakahaere, ā, i tōna taenga mai ki Rotorua, ka pōwhiria anō ia e ngā iwi me ōna hapū kārangaranga. Ko te tino mahi i waihangatia mā Te Reiwhati, he whakatītina i a Waikato kia tahuri ki te whakatūao i a rātau ki te kuhu mai ki te whawhai. Nō te roanga ka huri mai te iwi rā, ā, āta whakaakona, whakatūria rawatia ana he kamupene. E rūpeke kau atu ana te tira nei ki Ōropi, ēngari i te 11 o Noema ka hohouhia te rongo, whakamutua ana te pakanga. Nō te 19 o Tīhema o te tau 1918, ka tukua ia ki te rōpū whakaihinga o ngā āpiha. Mutu rawa ake te pakanga, i mene katoa i a ia ngā tohu, arā, ko Te Whetū 1914–15 (1914–14 Star), ko te Mētara Whawhai o Peretānia (British War Medal) me te Mētara mō te Wikitōria (Victory Medal), hei tohu atawhai mō āna mahi i tāwāhi.

Nō muri i te whakamararatanga mai i a Te Reiwhati, ka hoki mai ia ki te mahi pāmu, whakapau i ōna kaha ki te whakatikatika i ngā whenua o te iwi, ki te whakanohonoho i ngā hōia Māori e hokihoki mai ana i te pakanga me te āwhina i te Poari Whakaako o Ākarana ki te Tonga (South Auckland Education Board), ki te hanga kaupapa hei whakaako i ngā tamariki Māori. He mea whakapau katoa e ia tōna kaha ki te ārahi i ngā whenua o Horohoro me Te Rotoiti i te whakaaritanga o Āpirana Ngata – i muri iho ko ia te minita mō ngā take Māori – i tana kaupapa ahu whenua i te tekau tau atu i 1920. I muri anō tōna whānau i a ia e tautoko ana.

I waihotia e Te Reiwhati te whakanohonoho haere i ngā Māori i runga i ngā whenua o ō rātau tīpuna, hei tāhuhu pūmau māna mō āna mahi, ā mate noa. Heoi te mea, o ngā iwi e matatau ana ki te mahi pāmu, ko ngā iwi i tino hē rawa atu ko ōna ake iwi, ko Ngāti Pikiao rāua ko Ngāti Tuarā. Kāti koa, ka mutu te mahi taumaha, me te mahi whāroa a ngā kaporeihana o Ngāti Pikiao me ngā tāngata whai e whakatikatika ana i te whenua. I te mutunga e hia mano eka, whenua pai nei i oti te mahi e rātau hei whakatipu hipi, whakatipu kau hoki. Nā te mea ko te nuinga o ngā tāngata i whakanōhia ki runga i aua whenua, me ētehi anō o ngā mēnetia, he hōia mai nō te pakanga, i tino harakoakoa ai a Te Reiwhati.

I hua ake ai te kaupapa mō ngā kaporeihana, nō roto mai i te whakaaro o Te Reiwhati he māmā kē ake kia mau tonu ngā whakahaere o ngā poraka whenua ki te whānau kotahi, tēnā kia tukua ki te tokomaha o ngā kaiwhiwhi ā-iwi. Ko ētehi o ngā whenua nei i rīhia e te Pākehā i te tuatahi, ēngari i te ekenga o ngā rīhi, ka whakahokia mai aua whenua ki raro i ngā whakahaere a te Māori. Ka ea nei ngā mōkete, whakahokia mai ana aua whenua rā me ētehi moni anō ki te hunga nō rātau ngā whenua rā; i te whakahokinga mai e kapi katoa ana aua poraka i te kararehe. Riro ana nā te whakamutunga o te Pakanga Tuarua i whakahohoro te whakanohonoho i ngā pāraeroa Māori ki runga i ngā whenua e hia mano eka kē nei te rahi. He nui tonu rātau i toa ki te Tohu Toanga Ahu Whenua mō te whakatipu kau me te hipi tae atu hoki ki te miraka kau.

I whakamātau a Te Reiwhati ki te whakauru i a ia ki te Ope 28 (Māori) o Niu Tīreni (28th New Zealand (Māori) Battalion) i te wā o te Pakanga Tuarua; ka whakatauria he kaumātua rawa ia i runga anō i tana whakarerekētanga i ōna tau i 1901. Nō te 1 o Ākuhata o te tau 1941, i whakatūria a ia hei kāpene mō te ope tautiaki i te haukāinga o Rotorua (Rotorua Home Guard). Taka rawa ki Mei o te tau 1942, mō te wā noa nei i whakatūria a ia hei meiha. Nō Pēpuere o te tau 1943, ka riro i a ia te whakahaere o te puni hōia i Matatā (Matatā Military Camp). Hāunga nā tana huri kē ki te whāwhā i ngā mahi a te rōpū Māori mō ngā mahi whawhai (Māori War Effort Organisation), ka unu ia i tēnei tūranga. Nō te 28 o Āperira o te tau 1946, ka whakawhiwhia a ia ki te Mētara mō te Whakaritenga Mahi Whawhai o Niu Tīreni (New Zealand War Service Medal).

Nō muri mai i te pakanga, i ruku atu a Te Reiwhati ki ngā mahi toko i te ora o te iwi Māori, me te taha mātauranga hoki. Hoi anō ko tāna i pūkeke ai kia tika te tiaki i ngā hōia e hoki mai ana kia kore e pērā i ngā hōia o te Pakanga Tuatahi, mahue noa ake ana. Hoki rawa mai ngā hōia Māori i te whawhai, kua mārō kē ngā kaupapa whakaako i ngā mahi ā-ringa huhua noa atu. Ka riro anō ko Te Reiwhati hei kaiwhakahaere mō te mahi whakatū whare mō ngā Māori. Whakaīngoatia ana ia hei mema mō te komiti o te motu mō te mātauranga Māori (National Committee of Māori Education), hei kaitohutohu anō hoki mō te Poari Mātauranga o Ākarana ki te Tonga. E toru tau ia e noho tiamana ana mō te Poari Kaitiaki ā-Rohe o Te Arawa (Arawa District Trust Board), tiamana anō hoki mō te Kaunihera ā-Rohe o ngā Komiti Tōpū o Waiariki (Waiariki District Council of Tribal Executives). I te hanganga o te Kaunihera Māori o Niu Tīreni (New Zealand Māori Council), ka riro ko ia anō tētehi hei whakaū i taua kaupapa rā. I whakatauria mā Te Reiwhati hei whakarite ngā whakatikatika mō te pōwhiri a te iwi i a Kuini Irihāpeti Te Tuarua i tana taenga mai ki Rotorua i te tau 1953, ā, nā āna mahi i ūhia a ia ki te tohu whakahōnore OBE. Nō te tau 1960, i tū ia hei mema mō te Rōpū Nāhinara o Niu Tīreni ki te whakataetae i te tūru Pāremata o Te Tai Rāwhiti, ēngari kore ana i whiwhi.

Nō te 23 o Maehe o te tau 1962 i mate ai a Hēnare Te Reiwhati Wēko (Vercoe) ki Rotorua. I pau i a ia ōna kaha e mahi ana mā tōna iwi, ā mate noa ia. Mahue mai ana ko ana tamāhine tokorua, ko ana tama tokowhā me ana wāhine tokorua. I takoto ia ki te marae o Houmaitawhiti i Te Rotoiti; ka mutu te tangihanga a te mano tangata ki a ia, ka riro nā ngā hōia ia i kawe ki te urupā nehu ai.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Whakahuihui Vercoe. 'Vercoe, Henry Te Reiwhati', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1996. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/mi/biographies/3v5/vercoe-henry-te-reiwhati (accessed 14 December 2019)