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Kōrero: Harris, Witarina Te Miriarangi

Whārangi 1: Haurongo

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Harris, Witarina Te Miriarangi

1906–2007

Ngāti Whakaue; kiriwhakaari, kaitaunaki o te ao Māori

I tuhia tēnei haurongo e Emma Jean Kelly, ā, i tāngia tuatahitia ki Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau i te 2019. He mea whakamāori nā Te Haumihiata Mason.

I tōna matenga, i kīia a Witarina Harris e te kaitōrangapū a Tariana Turia, 'he kuia nō Ngāti Whakaue o Te Arawa waka i maimoatia; kahurangi o te mata hiriwa; ko tētehi o ngā whetū kiriata ake o Aotearoa'. 1 Tuawahine o te kiriata wahangū The devil’s pit i te tau 1929, nāwai ā, ka noho a Witarina hei wahine kawenga nui ki ētehi rōpū i whai ki te pupuri tonu, ki te whakarangatira ake i te ao Māori: Ko te Karapu Rangatahi Māori o Ngāti Pōneke tērā, ko Ngā Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora, ko te kaupapa o te kōhanga reo me ētehi atu. He wahine i para huarahi hou i te ao kiriata, i ōna tau tōmuri ka kawea e ia te āhua o te tirohia me te tiakina o te kiriata Māori. Heoi, i ū tonu ia ki te whakataukī: ‘E kore te kūmara e kī ana mō tōna ake reka’.

Tau tōmua

I whānau mai a Witarina Te Miriarangi Parewahaika Mitchell i te 15 o Mei 1906 ki Ōhinemutu, Rotorua. Hei tamāhine ia mā Nataria Haupapa, nō te hapū o Ngāti Tūnohopu o Ngāti Whakaue, me tana tāne kairūri, a James Niramona Zealand Mitchell, nō Ngāti Te Tākinga, nō Ngāti Pikiao, nō Kotarangi anō. Ko tōna tipuna tāne ki te taha ki tōna whaea, a Rotohiko Tangonui Haupapa, he tangata rangatira i Rotorua. I noho mai ia ki te Poari o te Taone me te Poari Kaitiaki o Pukeroa.

I tupu ake a Witarina i waenga o ngā kāinga o Tārewa (Ngāti Tuarā) ki te taha o te matua kēkē o tōna whaea, me Rangiriri Manaki Te Kaiamo i Ōhinemutu. Ko te reo Māori te reo o te kāinga, engari i tana haerenga ki tētehi kura Katorika i Rotorua, ka hāua ia mō te kōrero i tōna ake reo. Ka mutu tana akoako i te ringapoto me te patotuhi, ka whiwhi mahi ia i te Māori Arts and Crafts School; nā tētehi hoa o te whānau ia i taunaki mō te tūranga, arā, nā te kaitōrangapū a Apirana Ngata, tētehi tangata matua o te kura.

The devil’s pit

I te mutunga o ngā tau 1920, ka puta te whakaaro o Ngata kia whakamātau a Witarina mō tētehi tūnga i tētehi kiriata o te wā ki te kiriata wahangū o Hollywood, i whakaritea kia whakaahuatia ki Te Moana-a-Toi, i te wā i kaingākautia ai te kiriata mātātoa o waho, arā, o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa ki te Tonga, mā ngā mākete ki Amerika ki te Raki me Ūropi. Ka tohua ko ia i tana noho mai ki tētehi toka i te taha o tētehi roto. Ko Pirinehe Miro a Witarina i te kiriata a Universal Pictures nei. He kiriata whakaipo e whakaatu ana i te wā o mua atu i te taenga mai o te Pākehā, ka noho ko Lew Collins te ringatohu i muri o te unuhia mai o te tangata rongo kino, a Alexander Markey, i te kiriata. Pārekareka ana ki a Witarina tāna mahi, i whakaahuatia nei ki ngā wāhi pērā i a Whakaari, i whawhai ai a tuahangata me te tangata kino mō Pirinehe Miro, i mua i te rukea atu o te tangata kino ki te ngāwhā. He maha ngā ingoa o te kiriata, tae atu ki tōna ingoa ōkawa a Under the Southern Cross, ko Taranga anōko The dragon’s pit, engari i mōhio whānuitia ko The devil’s pit. I te putanga i te tau 1929, kāore i angitu taha arumoni nei. I kite a Witarina i te kiriata i te whakaterenga ki te Deluxe Theatre i Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, ka mutu i reira tana rongo mō te kiriata mō tētahi 53 tau.  

Tau ki Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara

I muri o tana tūnga tuatahi hei kiriwhakaari, ka whai a Witarina i te ‘hekenga wahangū’ a ngāi Māori ki ngā taone nui ki te kimi mahi. Hei tāna i mahara ake ai, ‘I te mea i haere ake au i Rotorua, kua waia kē mātou ki te kōrero tahi ki te Pākēhā. Nō reira, i taku haerenga ki Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara me taku kaha rongo i te mokemoke, ka ohorere katoa au. Ka tupu ake te mea nei i roto i a au – kātahi au ka whakaaro, “Kei te hiahia kite kanohi Māori au!”’2 I te tau 1929 ka haere ia hei hēkeretari mā Ngata, kua noho nei hei Minita Māori, he tūranga i whai tikanga ai tana matatau ki te tuhi me te kōrero i te reo Māori, he tūranga hoki i noho ai ia mō te toru tau.  

Ka mārena a Witarina ki tētehi tangata Ingarihi, a Howard Reginald (Reg) Harris i Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara i te 18 o Hune 1932, ka mutu tana mahi mā Ngata. Tokorima ā rāua tamariki: ko Rangiriri, ko Rua, ko Bernard, ko Stuart me Miria.

I te tau 1937 ka āwhina a Witarina ki te whakatū i te Karapu Rangatahi Māori o Ngāti Pōneke, tētehi wāhi whakaruru i a ngāi Māori kua hūnuku ki te taone nui pērā i a ia. I kōrero ia mō te āhua o te whakakotahi a te hunga rangatahi ki te whakatū karapu, ka mutu, ‘ko tā ngā pākeke he awhi i ngā mea tamariki ake, ka mutu, nā ā rātou manaakitanga i kaha ake ai te hunga rangatahi’.3 I tū a Ngāti Pōneke ki te whakangahau i ngā ope taua e haere ana ki te Pakanga Tuarua o te Ao, i tū hoki ki ētehi huihuinga rangatira. He wāhi tēnei mō te hākinakina, mō te akoako, e puāwai tonu nei.

I whawhai a Reg i te pakanga, ka mutu, hei tā Witarina i ōna tau tōmuri, nā Ngāti Pōneke ia i kaha ai i te wā o te taumahatanga, ‘ka kaha ake taku rongo i taku taha Māori…. Ko taku oranga – koirā te tikanga o Ngāti Pōneke ki a au’.4 He kaihaka ia i uaratia e te rōpū, i tupu tahi hoki rāua ko te reo waiata rongonui i hopukina nei tōna reo, a Ana Hato, ahakoa tana kore e rongo i te māia kia tū hei reo tōtahi. E ai ki ētehi atu he reo rōreka tōna.   

Mahi whakatairanga i te tikanga Māori me te ao Māori

Āpiti atu ki a Ngāti Pōneke, i whakawātea a Witarina i a ia ki ētehi atu momo whakahaere e arotahi ana ki te whakapakari ake i a ngāi Māori. Ko ia tētehi o te Komiti Toko i te Ora o Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara ko tōna upoko ko Lady Pōmare, me tana noho hei mema whakatū i Ngā Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora i ngā tau 1950, he kaitautoko anō ia i te whakatūnga o te kōhanga reo, me tana mahi tahi anō ki a Mātua Whāngai ki te āwhina i ngā wāhine Māori i ngā whare herehere. I te tau 1979, ka tapaina ia e Ngā Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora ko ‘Te Whaea o te Motu’.

Ka mate a Reg i te tau 1979, ka whakatau a Witarina kia hoki anō ia ki Rotorua. Ka haere tonu āna mahi i te kāinga mō te reo me ngā tikanga Māori, me tana noho ki te taha o tana teina, a Francie (Francis), ki Cosy Cottage, i te taha o te moana o Rotorua. Ka whai wāhi atu ia ki ētehi whakahaere Māori maha tonu, i tana mahi hei kuia tipi-haere tūao ki ngā kura kōhungahunga, mā te Ratonga Āwhina Whānau, ki te tautoko i ngā kaupapa reo Māori me te ārahi i te taha tikanga i ētehi huihuinga i te taha o ōna whanaunga. He rahi ngā momo whakanui a tana iwi o Ngāti Whakaue me etahi atu iwi o Te Arawa i āna mahi. Hei tauira, i te inoihia o Howard Morrison kia peitatia tana āhua ki Rotorua, ka puta tana whakaaro kia peitahia ko Witarina. I whakairia te whakaahua nei ki te whare o te Kaunihera o Rotorua.  

Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua / The New Zealand Film Archive

I te tau 1982 ka tahuri a Jonathan Dennis, te whakataka whakatū i Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua (nō muri iho ka kīia ko Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision), ki te kimi i a Witarina i tana mōhio tērā pea ka whakahokia mai tētehi kape o The devil’s pit ki Aotearoa. Ka noho hoa tata rāua, me tana tīmata inamata ki te kawe i ngā mahi a Dennis, i tana āwhina kia huri kē te āhua o te pūranga i te taera o Ūropi, kia whakaatu kē i ngā mahi me ngā tikanga Māori. Ka noho a Witarina ko te kaumātua tuatahi o te Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua. I te tau 1986 ka whakawhiwhia ia ki te Queen’s Service Medal mō āna Ratonga Hapori.  

Atu i te tau 1986 ki te 1990, ka whai atu a Witarina i ngā kiriata Māori ki ngā whakaaturanga ki San Francisco (e 80 ōna tau i tana whakawhitinga tuatahi ki tāwāhi), ki Rānana, ki Parihi, ki Honolulu, ki Munich me Ngā Ānahera. I te tau 1993 ka tae ia ki Itāria hei māngai ki te Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, tētehi taiopenga kiriata wahangū, ki te tāpae horopaki mō ngā kiriata a ngā tāngata whenua tērā tonu ka kīia he āhua momo tangata noa o tētehi iwi o tua whakarere o whenua kē.

I te pātaihia ōna i te tau 1993 mō te hira o The devil’s pit, ka whakamārama atu ia i te hono o te kiriata i ngā tāngata o ēnei rā ki ō rātou tīpuna, ka mutu, he mea nui whakaharahara tērā: ‘Ko au te kanohi ora o aua pitopito kiriata wahangū i whakaahuatia ka hia tau nei ki mua. Ko aku tīpuna aua kaumātua rā. Ko au tō rātou kanohi ora. He Māori ahau’.5

Tau tōmuri

I te tau 1987, ka whakaatuhia a Witarina i te pakipūmeka o ‘Ngā Pikitia Māori’ mō te terenga pouaka whakaata o Koha, i whakatakina e Lawrence Wharerau. I te 2004, ka whakaterea tētehi kiriata ko Peter Wells nei tōna ringatohu, mō te noho hoa o Witarina rāua ko Jonathan Dennis i te Taiopenga Kiriata o te Ao ki Aotearoa. I te 2007 ka whakaatuhia tētehi atu pakipūmeka mō Witarina ki Whakaata Māori hei wāhanga o tētehi terenga e pā ana ki te kuia i kīia ko Ngā Ripo. Ka whakawhiwhia a Witarina e Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ki te tohu o Tāaiki Ngāpara, te tohu tutukinga oranga i tana huihuinga huritau 25 i te Tīhema 2006.

I tana whai painga i ngā tautoko a Ngata, a Miria Pōmare me te Karapu Rangatahi Māori o Ngāti Pōneke, ka whakatauiratia e Witarina Harris tonu te awhi me te manaakitanga i a ia ka kaumātua, i tana āwhina ki te whakapakari i te hunga rangatahi ki tō rātou Māoritanga. I pukumahi te kuia matatau nei ki te reo Māori mō te kaupapa o te kōhanga reo, mō Ngā Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora me ētehi atu hōtaka o te hapori. He arawhiti anō ia i waenga i te ao Māori me te ao Pākehā. Kī ana tōna oranga roa i te wheako huhua, me tana kakama tonu ki te hora i aua wheako ko ētehi atu.

I tino tata ia ki tana mokopuna i tapaina ki tōna ingoa a Parewahaika, tamāhine a Stuart rāua ko Beryl, me tana noho ki te whānau o Parewahaika i ōna rā whakamutunga. I tōna huritau kotahi rau, ka puta te kōrero a Witarina:

Kia mau te aroha i a koutou. – Kua eke au ki tēnei taipakeke, he mōhio tonu nōku ko te aroha te mea nui i roto i te whānau whānui.6

I mate a Witarina Harris ki te hōhipera o Rotorua i te 10 o Hune 2007, 101 ōna tau. I nehua ia ki te Urupā o Kauae i Ngongotahā.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Tariana Turia. ‘Tribute to Witarina Harris by Māori Party co-leader’, 11 June 2007, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0706/S00184.htm, accessed 2 October 2019. Back
  2. Patricia Grace, Irihapeti Ramsden, and Jonathan Dennis. The Silent Migration Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club 1937-1948, Stories of Urban Migration. Wellington, 2001, p.32. Back
  3. Ibid, p.77. Back
  4. Ibid, p.213. Back
  5. Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, Frontline: Women in the Frame. F21073, 1993. Back
  6. Tariana Turia. ‘Tribute to Witarina Harris by Māori Party co-leader’, 11 June 2007. Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Emma Jean Kelly. 'Harris, Witarina Te Miriarangi', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 2019. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/mi/biographies/6h4/harris-witarina-te-miriarangi (accessed 28 October 2021)