Rangipiri Kelly stands amongst family memorabilia in the central room of her large old Akano family home. 18091448
Restoring a 115-year-old family home in Arorangi has been a labour of love for Rangipiri Kelly.
“I had been living in Australia for 30 years when my mum said she wanted to go home, so I brought her back here,” she says. “That was about 12 years ago.”
Kelly says the house had been left to the elements and it was down to the original coral wall covered with flaking plaster and wooden frame, when she started on it.
The house and gardens are still a work in progress and Rangi says she is loving her project.
“I grew up in this house: there are so many memories. It was my great-great grandfather’s home.I am the sixth generation living here. After me one of my children will live here and if they don’t want it, then a niece or nephew.”
The home is called Akano in memory of Kelly’s great-great grandfather, who married the daughter of Tinomana, king of the Puaikura district.
Kelly has filled the interior of the home with antiques including the tivaivai that her mother Pokoroa made.
Her parents had 10 children - “dad was Tahitian, Irish and Scottish.”
The heart of the house, the piamaata or long room, is made from a coral centre covered in limestone. It is large with high ceilings and is quiet, cool and peaceful.
“My dad extended the house all around to make seven bedrooms,” Kelly says. But we would all still come and sleep in this room together. That is a special memory for me, and listening to the stories my grandfather would tell us all from the olden days.”
Rangi shares a nu and fresh local fruit after the tour, giving guests a chance to ask questions and relax before going on their way.
The Akano House and Garden, just past Friendly Mart in Arorangi is open to the public for tours on Wednesday’s and Fridays from 2pm and 4pm by phoning 20389.