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Pa Puia Rangatira seeks family reconciliation after title dispute

Saturday 18 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Features, National, Weekend

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Pa Puia Rangatira seeks family reconciliation after title dispute
Pa Puia Rangatira Rota Williams is surrounded by his family at the new Puia Marae. MELINA ETCHES/24051308

Rota Williams has been invested with the title of Pa Puia Rangatira surrounded by his family and guests at the new Pa Puia Marae in Tupapa last week.

Although the selection process for the title has not been smooth, he received the majority of three votes from five lines.

“I don’t think of it as a challenge, I think of it as a journey,” says Pa Puia Rangatira.

“I am from the first line, my great-grandmother was the firstborn, my grandmother was the second born – her older brother didn’t have any issue, and my mother was the firstborn.”

According to Pa Puia Rangatira, the title originates back to the 1800s to their “metua” Meariki Puia.

“My great-grandmother registered herself as the title holder in the native court in 1948. In 1952, she also registered that she was handing over the title to her brother Teariki Urikapu – the third born in their family.”

According to Pa Puia Rangatira, when Teariki Urikapu passed away in the 70s, Mama Parau Haurua, his daughter, took on the title, and when she passed in the 90s, the title went into caretaker mode.

In February earlier this year, the Puia family had a meeting when Williams received three of the five votes.

Another meeting ensued, however, there were still objections since the title had been lying dormant since the 90s.

Puati Mataiapo, George Ngapare, who led the investiture ceremony, said an investiture for the same title was done in February this year by Ben Haurua at his home.

“But his (Haurua’s) investiture was not done according to our custom and the five kopu of this family didn’t attend,” said Puati Mataiapo.

Therefore, the decision to go ahead with Williams’ investiture was made.

“This is the real investiture for Pa Puia Rangatia,” Puati Mataiapo added.

Pa Puia Rangatira is keen to get the family united.

“If we have differences, let’s agree to disagree but let us agree to unite and come under one umbrella.”

He is grateful to his aunt who gave him a section of her land to build the new Pa Puia Marae.

Guests included Kaumaiti Nui Tou Travel Ariki, Makea Karika George Ariki, Makea Vakatini Phillip Ariki, Paroro Mataiapo, president of Koutu Nui Rongo Preston, King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Marsters, Tui Dewes, New Zealand High Commissioner, and Phoebe Smith, Australian High Commissioner.