Over the past 14 or so days, our usual two flights a week schedule went out the window. Planes have been heard daily, sometimes a number coming and going on the same day.
About 30 passengers disembarked on Monday of last week off the ship that usually just carries freight. The population of Mauke almost doubled, as the excitement and energy expended, as families arrived from near and far and locals gave all in preparation for this rare event, the investiture of a king.
In 2012 Anthony's father, Te Au Marae Tapu Ariki, passed away and, as per Marae's wishes Anthony (aka Tony) became the Ariki designate.
However, with a young family still attending school in Australia, Tony was not able to fulfill his Dad's wishes immediately. Now with his youngest, a 17-year-old son still at high school, his wife Lisa has stayed on in Australia so that Tony can begin a new chapter for his tribe.
The spokesperson for Ngati Teakatauira, Teakatauira Mataiapo Tamaka Dyer, acknowledges this sacrifice, appreciating that Tony took a very big step in coming home. He points out that the role of Ariki can only be held by one who is resident in Mauke and mentioned that Tony came back without even a job to go to, so they are pleased that he now is working at Bluesky.
Interestingly, his Dad worked there also, at what was then Telecom.
Tony is the eighth Te Au Ariki, following in the footsteps of those before him, with this title having been passed from Father to son; from Tearu Tanganuku, to Pito, to Teau Mariri, to Aitu, to Tangata Kaikava, to Turakiare, to his father Marae, and now him.
Tamaka said that the tribe sent out invitations, but still they were very surprised and feel honoured that such a great number of families and dignatories made the effort to attend this special occasion.
The island was privileged to host Queen's Representative Tom Marsters and his wife Tuaine, representatives from the House of Ariki, the Koutu Nui, the Deputy Prime Minister, members of the Opposition, representatives from Cook Islands communities in Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand, family and friends from the Pa Enua, and importantly, those from Mitiaro and Atiu who are an integral part of a Ngaputoru Ariki investiture.
Mann Unuia from Atiu as spokesperson for Te Ukarau, took on the traditional role of coordinating investitures of Ngaputoru Ariki. He has been involved with two other Ariki investitures in Atiu, but this was his first on Mauke and he was very happy to mention that Te Karakia (the sacred prayer given by Casper Mateariki) hadn't come alone, but with Te Pa'u (the sacred drum beat by Ngere Tariu) and Te Pu (the sacred conch blown by Carl Glassie). "This makes the ceremony complete," he said.
Once Anthony became Te Au Ariki he performed the investitures for three new Mataiapo: Ko'umu Mataiapo - TeUra Wichman, Te Uiui Mataiapo - Jermaine Samuela and Tiatoa Mataiapo - Teaura Tapoki.
The ceremony had many facets, each necessary and packed with meaning, but when the haunting sound of the vivo (nose flute), so skillfully played by artist Rutera Taripo accompanied by soft singing, wove its magic through an already charged atmosphere, one couldn't deny that this was truly a special occasion. As some expressed, it was an emotional time, a rare event and one not to be missed and one they felt honoured to have witnessed.
Mauke School students were honoured to 'call in' the many guests down the green rauti lined path to Marae Puarakura and at the completion they were in full voice once more to call as the new Ariki was carried on the shoulders of warriors for approximately 100 metres to Oiretumu's CICC church for a blessing service.
The Religious Advisory Council played a part in anointing and praying for Te Au Ariki and his wife and a minute's silence was observed for the late Father John.
House of Ariki President Tou Ariki signed the official documents witnessed by Justice of the Peace, Teata Ateriano, and spoke of Tony's father whom he served with; mentioning that he was a humble man with a lot of patience, and he trusts that Anthony will follow in his footsteps.
Orometua Ngarangi Tuakana shared the following scriptures: 1 Samuel 10:20 -24, Romans 13:1-2 and Proverbs 8:14-15, as he spoke of King Saul's investiture. Emphasising that there is a right time for everything. "When the fullness of time comes", he quoted, and then called on Te Au Ariki to seek the knowledge of God, to use the sword of the Spirit (God's word), and to be strong.
To the Aronga Mana he asked that they hold on to God, never to lose faith.
'The Lord is our shepherd, with Him we shall want for nothing.'
In talking with Tony, he said all will continue as it is. “We all have jobs to do, there are sports teams to coach, and time will tell what changes have to be made in his life, and what tasks he should aspire to take on.”
The charge given to him to bring the tribe together in harmony and peace is one he takes seriously and he says he hopes to pick up Father John's legacy, that of being a friend of the people.
- June Hosking, Mauke