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Puaikura pays tribute to Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki and Papeiha

Thursday 27 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Church Talk, Culture, Features, National

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Puaikura pays tribute to Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki and Papeiha
Maria Pera and Nia Heather (right) unveil the plaque for Isaia Papeiha (Matoi Rangatira). MELINA ETCHES/23072617

Vaka Puaikura celebrated 200 years of Christianity Arrival to Arorangi with the unveiling of stone carved monuments and vibrant culture on Tuesday afternoon.

Over 1000 people attended the grand event – a significant milestone for Puaikura and the community – as it marked the acceptance of Christianity and its impact on the community.

The day began with the unveiling of carved stone monuments at the Kura Akaangi Marae – a hidden oasis, nestled on a hilltop clearing surrounded by stunning natural scenery in the hills of Puaikura, where Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki and his younger brother Matoi Teauariki are buried.

The ceremony was a tribute to Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki for his wisdom in accepting Christianity.

“An honour and respect for the great man (Enuarurutini) who accepted Christianity in Puaikura,” said MP for Murienua Teariki Heather.

The crowd then moved to the Arorangi Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) Ziona Tapu church for the unveiling of the striking Enuarurutini Memorial Stone, the plaque for Isaia Papeiha (Matoi Rangatira) and the unveiling of a 200-year remembrance rock by Tamakeu Mataiapo – Puretu Heather and Elizabeth Iro.

The imene tuki composed by the Arorangi Ekalesia was sung with pride and heart by the congregation celebrating their special day, followed by a church service.

These celebrations were a testament to the strong faith and cultural traditions which are still cherished and passed down from generation to generation.

Organisers of the event, the Arorangi CICC Ekalesia along with MP and businessman Teariki Heather, were pleased to see that the historic event was celebrated in a way that brought their community together and showcased culture.

Heather said: “Everything went well and we appreciate all the support and help we received from everyone to make this event a success.”

“We thank everyone for all the food that was donated – the taro, pigs, chicken, nu and food which was shared out at the end of the celebrations.”
Sylvana Taoro-Puia said the day was so emotional with special moments that made it difficult to hold back tears.

“It was truly amazing it touched the hearts of all those that attended,” Taoro-Puia said.

“As a descendant of Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki and Papeiha, I was so proud to take part in the 200 years of the arrival of Christianity to our paradise.

“They have left a legacy that we are so proud of - our generations today and for the future generations of tomorrow.”

Local businessman and artist Nia Heather is a descendant of Papeiha.

Nia said: “I don’t think the 100-year anniversary of the Gospel was celebrated. Now our generation is acknowledging 200 years of Christianity and I wonder what it would have been like for them two centuries ago.”

“I have been looking forward to this day, and thanks to Teariki Heather the instigator, to have this all done.”

At the Kura Akaangi Marae, the headstones were veiled with beautiful, vibrant, handmade tivaivai that stood out against the towering deep green of the neighbouring hills and the clear blue sky.

Papa Tauturu Orometua – John Andrew and kopu Ariki o Tinomana representative, Member of Parliament for Akaoa (Cook Islands United Party) Robert Heather and his wife Mairi, led the unveiling of “Tanumanga o Enuarurutini Ariki o Puaikura” headstone, followed by Mataiapo, Rangatira and their families.

The Matoi headstone “Tanumanga o Matoi Teauariki -Teina o Enuarurutini” unveiling was led by Matoi Rangatira – Nia Heather, followed by Remuera Rangatira, Keu Rangatira, Taarua Rangatira and Akanoa Rangatira.

Maria Pera, representing the landowners of the site, had the honour of unveiling the “Tama U’a a Enuarurutini” which features a moving image set on stone depicting the two brothers.

Celebrations concluded at the Aroa Nui Hall with a brilliant display of talent and culture by the Puaikura Production Team, depicting the story of Tinomana Enuarurutini Ariki and Papeiha, followed by thousands of raurau of umu cooked food shared out to guests.