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Dr Takiora Ingram: Ariki’s return to Mangaia welcome

Tuesday 1 September 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Editorials

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Dr Takiora Ingram: Ariki’s return to Mangaia welcome
The investiture of Tereapi'i Tangi as the new Numangatini Ariki at a crowded Te Maruata-Nui-o-Numangatini marae on Mangaia last week. TUAINE PAPATUA 20082845

OPINION: It’s good to see that we now have Numangatini Ariki living in Mangaia after so many years without an ariki.

Kia orana editor,

I enjoyed reading your articles about the akamarokura’anga of Tereapi’i Tangi as the new Numangatini Ariki at a crowded Te Maruata-Nui-o-Numangatini marae.

I’m the great-great-granddaughter of the first Numangatini Ariki who was born in 1780, served as Ariki of Mangaia for 60 years before died in 1878 at 98 years old.

After he welcomed the Christian missionary William Wyatt Gill in 1852, Numangatini Ariki joined the LMS church and married a Rarotongan woman Tu-Te-Unuku, my great-great grandmother, the daughter of Te Pa and Rauru-a-te-Ava of Rarotonga.

Numangatini Ariki played a key role in convincing his people to accept Christianity from the first missionaries and many stories about him and Mangaia are recorded in missionary William Wyatt Gill’s book, From Darkness to Light in Polynesia, first published in 1894.

He wrote the following about my great-great-grandfather:

When the evangelists landed on the reef they were literally taken by the hand by Numangatini, the King, and conducted to his own seaside marae dedicated to Rongo, to invest their persons with a sacred character.

The Prince of Peace, Numangatini, the aged king of Mangaia once told me “Missionary, don’t be anxious about me. As long as I breathe I will cling to the Word of God.” During the many years of our close intimacy, I saw very much to admire and nothing whatever to blame in the character and Christian profession of King Numangatini. He was always in his place in the house of God. Never was a ruler more sincerely lamented at his death at a very advanced age in 1878. He passed away in possession of all his faculties.” Gill referred to him asNu-manga-tini, Palm-of-many-branches and reigned from 1821 till his lamented death in 1878’.

Numangatini’s eldest son Metuakore John Trego, was born in 1857, grew up in Oneroa and after his father passed away in 1878 inherited the title King” John Tioni Numangatini. In 1888, he visited Queen Victoria in London and after their meeting at Buckingham Palace he walked backwards facing her.

She was impressed with his courtesy and presented him with a Union Jack flag with her image and told him that Mangaia would from that day forever be part of Great Britain.

The flag still exists at the home of the current Numangatini Ariki in Oneroa, and Mangaians still call themselves “paratane”, the Māori word for British.

King Tioni’s sister Mata, my great grand-grandmother married Daniela Tangitoru the famous Mangaian master carver who was well known for his masterpieces, including a vaka in the Te Papa Museum collection and many carved stands topped with adzes.

Their first daughter, my grandmother Takiora of the Numangatini Ariki family was born in Mangaia in 1883.

She later married my grandfather William Tiatava Kelly from the Makea family of Rarotonga in 1904 in Tahiti and they joined the delegation headed by Rangi Makea Ariki to represent the Cook Islands at the International Festival Exhibition in Christchurch in 1906.

Their third daughter, my mother Te Upoko Rere Atua Ki Iva was born in 1918, married my English father Jim Ingram in 1939 and they had seven children. I was born in 1944 and named me after my grandmother Takiora.

My parents established their retail business J & P Ingram in Rarotonga in the 1950s and had key roles in establishing the Democratic Party with Sir Thomas Davis who became Prime Minister in 1978.

My mother also served as the first woman member of the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly for three years in the 1960s.

After his death in 1928, Tioni Numangatini Ariki was succeeded by Matekeiti Trego Ariki who died in 1948 and later succeeded by Ruita Trego (pa tai) who died in 1991.

She was succeeded by Louisa Numangatini No’oroa Ariki, the daughter of Rangi ariki (pa uta) who was installed with the title in the 1990s then moved to live in Auckland for many years. Unfortunately she provided no leadership for our Mangaian people before she passed away in 2018.

After her death, the Aronga Mana allocated the Numangatini title to the pa tai branch to Tangitamaiti Tereapii, Mangaia’s ninth ariki of the modern era. I’m very happy to see that we now have Numangatini Ariki living in Mangaia after so many years without an ariki!

Kia manuia e Te Atua te Aro’a