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In honour of a man of faith, catechist and tribe leader

Saturday 14 January 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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In honour of a man of faith, catechist and tribe leader
Te Ariki Rauru Fanovaha and his wife Mareta Rauru Fanovaha unveil the last cover for his beloved grandfathers memorial stone. 23011303

A unique unveiling ceremony for the late Te Ariki Rauru (Anautoa Rangatira) of Ruatonga was held at the Rauru family homestead in Ruatonga on Thursday, January 5, 2023.

Rauru was born on October 6,1944 to parents Rauru Vaike Tupa and Tekonini Tautu. A devoted husband to the late Mapii Parau Marie Louisa Rauru (1947-2012), Rauru passed away on October 24, 2020.

He was a man who treasured Maori culture and values and held the traditional title of Anautoa Rangatira for 46 years.

Devoted to the Catholic Church, Rauru was a man of faith, a catechist for 20 years and a respected family man who provided for his tribe.

His daughter Anna Rauru said one of her nephews Te Ariki Rauru Fanovaha, who is named after his grandfather, was responsible for the design and creativity of the memorial rock and plaque.


The memorial stone of Te Ariki Rauru Anautoa Rangatira. 23011325

“He has learnt a lot from our father and I’m so proud of him, we are all really proud. He wanted to honour his Papa,” said Anna.

“And we wanted to do something different, we wanted to honour our father as a traditional leader, a catechist, and a father,” she said.

The first part of the ceremony began with the “unveiling of the crown” which comprised of the uplifting of three fine rito hats signifying Rauru’s traditional, faith and family values.

“He has now rested so it’s time to take off the crown, to lay it down,” explained Anna.

Bishop Paul Donoghue representing the Catholic church, Makea Karika George Ariki for the traditional leaders and King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters who stood for the family, were chosen to perform the uplifting of the crowns.

“It was fitting we had these dignified men to participate in our dad’s unveiling,” said Anna.

The memorial rock is from family land in Avatiu. Rauru’s grandson Te Ariki designed the family motif and rosary for the rock and the carving was completed by Bed Rock Ltd.

Te Ariki designed the plaque from Tamanu wood which was carved in the shape of the Bible, the plaque is placed on top of the rock to signify the lectern in church, “which represents preaching the gospel since our father was a catechist,” said Anna.

The second stage involved the “unveiling of the veil” by a Sister of the St Joseph of Cluny, Sister Emeli Marafonoq who was given the special honour of unveiling the first tivaivai.

“She is very special in our family and our parents acknowledge her as one of their own tamariki and she have great love for our father for which we are grateful. The Cluny Sisters have a special place in our father’s heart,” said Anna.

The third part of the ceremony was the “unveiling of the light”, and only 30 covers or veils were uncovered to reveal the memorial stone.

Te Ariki designed the marae structure around the base of the rock using the umu rocks his grandfather used for traditional underground cooking.

He wanted to use those specific rocks because of all the umukai food his Papa would prepare to provide for his tribe, explained Anna.

The dark gravel represents the land and the white sand for the ocean our ancestors as seafarers voyaged on, and a beautifully woven rito mat was created specially to surround the base of the memorial rock.

Te Ariki and his wife Mareta were given the honour to unveil the last tivaivai to reveal the memorial plaque and stone for his beloved grandfather.

The late Te Ariki and Mapi Rauru are survived by three of their four children Anna Marie, Georgina Tekonini and Andrew Phillip, and grandchildren; their second eldest child Ngati Tautu passed away.