12 Jul 2019

Under FiveHundy: Kaiwhaiki Pā

From Country Life, 9:32 pm on 12 July 2019

Kaiwhaiki Pā is the largest pā on the Whanganui River. The settlement has 40 homes, a marae and a kohanga reo.

Kahurangi Simon, chairman of the Kaiwhaiki Trust, says growing up there has given him "everything".

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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

The kaupapa is about love, peace, harmony and unity, Kahurangi says, and he had "a beautiful life up here."

"We're all pā kids."

The Simon whanau joined their cousins in an uncle's boat when it was time to get kai for a marae gathering.

"We loved eeling and whitebaiting. The pleasures of the river. It is a huge part of who we are... I am the river and the river is me...  born river rats."

Somehow Kahurangi and his 11 siblings fitted into a 2-bedroom house and he still has cousins living all along the street.

Although Kahurangi concedes there's not a lot of room for more homes at the pā, he's hoping to return and live there again soon.

"To give something back," he says.