Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 34, September 1990

On the occasion of his 70th Birthday in 1989, Waihi's Mayor, Mr Owen Morgan, was presented with a very appropriate gift by his sister, Mrs Margaret Cleary. Mr Morgan said that he was surprised and honoured to receive the special locally carved tokotoko (walking stick).

Mr Cleary had requested Mr Albert Anaru, a Headmaster of the Waihi Intermediate School from 1966 - 1970 and now retired in Waihi, to carve the stick. A legend for the tokotoko was prepared for Mr Morgan by Mr Anaru which explained the meanings of the carving. It read:

"The word tokotoko was as a whakapapa or genealogy stick carved in such a manner that each cut represented an ancestral figure with whom was associated an important happening(s) during his lifetime. The family tokotoko was always handed to the next in line. Nowadays the tokotoko is used by the kaumatua (elders) when speaking on a marae. Some tokotoko have been handed to other than kaumatua as a mark of respect and appreciation of that person's service to the community, by either the community or the family. The handing over of the tokotoko is accompanied with aroha (love) and deep feeling.

"This tokotoko is made from totara which originally grew in the forests of Ruatahuna, the stronghold of the Tuhoe people. This tribe boasts a heritage of Maori folklore and bushcraft comparable with any other tribe in Aotearoa.

"The paua used in the tokotoko comes from Kaikoura and coming from a deep cold sea, has a rich deep lustre quite different from paua found in our waters.

The design of the tokotoko is centred around the experiences while with the Waihi Borough Council. The main figure, adorned with the mayoral chain, has two wide opened eyes depicting an alertness, a fully extended tongue, extended in challenge (my tongue is clean, now show me yours), while two hands folded across his puku might conceal the various moods associated with decision making.

"The five figures beneath the main one are meant to depict the various personalities and moods of the councillors over the years.

"Manaia, directly below the main figure, occupies the four corners of meeting houses in Te Arawa territory and as no one can escape his singular stare he is the guardian of the house. Manaia is an important legendary figure. Other figures depict moods of councillors in various ways - a protruding tongue (one given to excessive debate), tongue in cheek (reluctant speaker), the second Manaia (mind changer), no eyes (indecisive thinker).

"However all the members are linked by the pakiri pattern showing the need for co-operative planning and thinking while appreciating each other's point of view.

"The sixth councillor at the rear of the tokotoko heads an uninterrupted pattern representing ongoing progress in Waihi. Each koru represents a project completed during your time with council. The sides have identical patterns depicting the happy medium, a balance of ideas and decisions arrived at in a positive and dignified manner. The sides also represent your work with other municipal authorities, and as well pay respects to yourself as a person of dignity and mana."

Mr Morgan brought the tokotoko along to a recent meeting of the Historical Society and read out the legend. "I will treasure that stick... it will be passed on down my family," he said.

Mr Anaru said that a tokotoko is handed on down the family to the ones who are worthy and deserve it and this is not necessarily the eldest.