10 Apr 2020

Hui Aranga - Cancelled but still celebrated this Easter.

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 10 April 2020
Saint Josephs Church, Te Puna

Saint Josephs Church, Te Puna Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray


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Hui Aranga is cancelled this year in light of the Covid-19 lockdown, however Easter commemorations for many Catholic Māori around Aotearoa will continue.

Chair of Te Kaunihera Matua o Te Hui Aranga Rawiri Tinirau says its likely whanau will take advantage of social media.

“I do know that there are different whanau who have been having evening karakia available to those outside of their whanau and their clubs and I think we will see a continuation of that, we’ll also probably see those whanau and clubs joining into the karakia that are happening within their parish that will be livestreamed” he says.

Rawiri Tinirau, Chair of Te Kaunihera Matua o te Hui Aranga.

Rawiri Tinirau, Chair of Te Kaunihera Matua o te Hui Aranga. Photo: Rawiri Tinirau


Hui Aranga is a five day event with kapahaka, sports, and speech competitions it is attended by hundreds of Māori Catholics from the fourteen clubs in Aotearoa, this year’s Hui Aranga was to be hosted in Wellington.

The first Hui Aranga was held in 1946, Pukekaraka in Otaki.

“The Hui Aranga is extremely important…it is sad but it’s also a time to reflect, having being brought up in the Hui Aranga having had parent, grand-parents and great grandparents it becomes part of your whakapapa, to the extent that we’ve also encouraged non-Catholics and non-whanau members to come along and be part of it, that’s always been a focus of mind to extend the reach of the Hui Aranga.” he says.

Kiritoha Tangitu, at Saint Josephs Church, Te Puna.

Kiritoha Tangitu, at Saint Josephs Church, Te Puna. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

In 2017 Te Ahi Kaa visited Saint Joseph’s church in Te Puna with Kaumatua Kiritoha Tangitu. He recalls the time as a child, waking up early to milk the cows, attending morning mass with Father Dolphyne before heading off to school.

From 1958 to 1980 a convent school was run by the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, it was from that where the Sisters taught the children of Te Puna. Kiritoha remembers how the Catholic faith was very much a part of his life.  

“We would go down and milk the cows at 6am in the morning, catch our horse and go to church at 8 o’ clock and we did that every morning,  that was my upbringing in the faith” he says.

Henare Ngaia and Vera Wilson at this years Hui Aranga, hosted by Tauranga Moana.

Henare Ngaia and Vera Wilson were awarded the Benemerenti Medal in 2015 for their services to the Catholic church. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

They both share their stories about the work with the church and the importance of history of Hui Aranga as an affirmation of being Catholic.