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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974

By Betty Nicholls

Members of the Paeroa Historical Society who visited Miranda in 1971 will remember being told that Whakatiwai on the West Coast of the Hauraki Gulf is a very historic place, as is the whole of the area between Kawakawa Bay and Kaiawa [Kaiaua – E]. It is significant that one of the lsst [last ? – E] of New Zealand's big Maori Meetings was held here just 100 years ago. In 1874 negotiations for the Opening of the Ohinemuri Goldfields were drawing to a close and in June of that year the Ngatipaoa issued invitations to other related and interested Tribes to gather for final discussions, and to listen to the proposals of the Europeans, led by James Mackay.

It was no small matter to assemble over 3,000 people. Great preparations were made and etiquette strictly observed. The Paeroa and Te Aroha Tribes first gathered at Paeroa, the Coromandel at Tararu, the Waikato at Mangatangi, and the Ngatiwhanaunga at Waihihi. Enterprising Storekeepers arrived early from Thames (Adlains, and Morgan) and from Ohinemuri (Bennett and Cassrell). Then on the 14th August the great meeting opened after the arrival of many small craft and two Steamers from Thames - (Enterprise and Ventura on which Mr. Mackay and his associates travelled). Two cannons off H.M.S. Buffalo were used to welcome and farewell the Pakeha visitors.

The chief Maori Speakers were:- Wirimu Kingi, Ngakapa Te Karauna, Te Moananui, Wirimu Taipari, Te Hira, Mere Kuru, Riria Karepe, Tuku Rera [or Rere – E], Mataia, Hata Paka, Hokepa, Kapane and Hopiana. James Mackay was the chief negotiator on behalf of the Government and it has been noted that Baron Charles de Thiery was also present. This meeting was undoubtedly to fore-runner to the Opening of the Goldfields in 1875. A religious service held at the big Meeting House was led by Rev. Mc Nicol and Rev. Wi Turipona.

It is recorded by Rev. T G. Grace that Rev. Turipona was one of the first Maori boys who attended the Missionary School at Puriri. To conceal his book he used to climb into a Patoka to read and the Rev. Lanfear regarded him as an outstanding pupil.

The Church Gazette of November 1896 contains the following:-

The Maori members of the Church have lost one of their most faithful ministers by the death of the Rev. Wiremu Turipona, at the Thames, on September 24th at the age of 74. From the time of his baptism, at the age of 16, he has led a most exemplary life, devoting himself with great earnestness to teach his fellow-countrymen the truths of Christianity. He became a lay-reader under the Rev. Mr. Lanfear, in 1840, and was afterwards educated for the ministry by the late Sir W. Martin, Archdeacon Maunsell, the Rev. R. Burrows and the present Bishop of Waiapu. He was admitted to Deacon's orders by the Primate in 1872 and took Priest's orders in 1874. For many years he worked faithfully in the large district assigned to him, and was invariably much respected. Until four months previous to his death he conducted service in the Parawai Church. His grave and tombstone are in the Churchyard.

The funeral on Sun. 27th Sept., 1896 was attended by at least 300 Europeans, and a large number of Natives. Memorial - Trinity Churchyard - Thames.

(We are indebted to Mrs. Kahuwhaangi [Te Kahuwhakaangi ? – E] Nicholls for information concerning Rev. Turipona and Mr. Henry Ashby's book, "Western Coast Hauraki Gulf" for notes on Historic Meeting. Ed.)