Te Ore Ore marae was a hive of activity
in early 1881. Te Potangaroa, the chief who had built the
meeting house Nga Tau E Waru on the site, and who was regarded
by many Wairarapa Maori as a prophet, called his people
to the marae to hear him tell of a vision he had received.
As well as gathering to hear the words of Paora (Paul)
Potangaroa the meeting was also to celebrate a meeting
held in the same spot in 1841 when a decision was made
to follow Christianity.
Thousands of visitors made their way to
the marae from early March for the hui on March 16, 1881.
A contingent of Napier Maori were met at the outskirts
of Masterton and escorted to the marae by the Masterton
Brass Band. There were said to be 52 buggies and 60 horsemen
and horsewomen in the party. Food was also gathered and
stored in an enormous 'big pyramid,' said to have been
50 metres long, 3 metres wide and a metre and a half high.
On the 16th Potangaroa unveiled a flag
that he had seen in a dream, and asked those assembled
to give their interpretation of the flag, which had a deep
black border containing sixteen stars in the centre, with
chequer work on the right, and clothing painted onto material
on the left. Various chiefs came forward with their interpretations
of the flag, but there was no unanimity about its meaning.
Potangaroa died shortly after this large meeting, and was
buried on his ancestral lands at Mataikona. Before he died,
however, he made certain predictions about the coming of
a new church that would fill the needs of Maori. A covenant
was drawn up by the scribe Ranginui Kingi, setting out
his prophecies, and sealed beneath a marble memorial stone
erected inside the Nga Tau E Waru house, along with various
Among the predictions that Potangaroa
is recorded as having made was one concerning the coming
of a special church for Maori. "There is a religious
denomination coming for us; perhaps it will come from there,
perhaps it will emerge here. Secondly, let the churches
into the house - there will be a time when a religion will
emerge for you and I and the Maori people." Potangaroa
also predicted a number of other signs would let Wairarapa
Maori know that his prophecy had been fulfilled within
the next forty years.
Shortly after this prediction the missionaries
of the LDS Church arrived and many local Maori became Mormons,
believing Potangaroa had predicted their arrival. Over
the years other churches, including Ringatu and Ratana
also claimed he had predicted their arrival. Another church,
this time a home-grown church, strongly based in Wairarapa,
was also to claim that Potangaroa had predicted its coming.
The Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah
was founded by Simon Patete, a Ngati Kuia chief from Havelock,
in Marlborough in the mid 1890s. His church, again founded
following a prophetic dream, was quickly taken up by Wairarapa
Maori and was soon more popular in this area than in its
area of origin.
The local leader of the church was the
Ngai Tumapuhiarangi chief Taiawhio Te Tau, who was also
active in the Maori Council, being Chairman of the Rongokako
Council, which covered the area from Dannevirke to Cook
Strait. As the church grew in strength in Wairarapa churches
were constructed at Tauweru, Mataikona and Homewood. The
church at Homewood, known as Manga Moria, has recently
been renovated and restored.
In 1921 local Maori realised that the forty
year anniversary of Potangaroa's prophecies was approaching,
and that another hui should be held to discuss whether
his predictions had come to pass. A hui was called for
at Te Ore Ore, in the meeting house Nga Tau E Waru, which
still contained the monument to Potangaroa, and his covenant.
The meeting was called by the Rongokako
Council. As Potangaroa’s flag flew outside the
people gathered for the hui discussed how the advent
had brought peace to Wairarapa, making it the only area
in New Zealand where there had been no blood shed between
Maori and pakeha.
The meeting decided to mark the fortieth
anniversary of Potangaroa's covenant by placing another
covenant in another monument. This time, though, the monument
was to be erected in Masterton Park, rather than at Te
Ore Ore. A special statue was commissioned and a large
ceremony was held in Masterton Park, at which Taiawhio
Te Tau represented the Maori race, and Masterton's mayor,
O.N.C. Pragnell, represented the European race. In the
ceremony great stress was placed on the peace that existed
between Maori and pakeha in Wairarapa, and the harmonious
way that the two races co-existed.
The statue was made of Italian marble,
and featured the form of an angel. A special cavity was
drilled into the front of the marble plinth holding the
angel, to allow for photographs of members of the British
Royal family to be placed on show. A cavity was also made
in the base, leaving room for a new covenant to be placed
inside the monument. The covenant once placed within the
monument was not to be seen for another forty years.
Meanwhile other changes were taking place
at Te Ore Ore.
The prophet T.W. Ratana had started his
movement in 1920 and was gaining many adherents. Many in
Maoridom wondered whether it could have been his church
that Potangaroa had spoken of in 1881. In 1928 Ratana paid
a visit to Te Ore Ore, and while at Nga Tau E Waru removed
Potangaroa's memorial stone from inside the meetinghouse
and placed it outside. The covenant, which had been carefully
placed inside the monument, had become so damaged as to
be unreadable. Fortunately, in 1881 it had been photographed
before being sealed inside the marble monument.
About this time Potangaroa's flag went
missing, and shortly after that the loving cup cemented
to the top of the Potangaroa monument fell to the ground
in the 1931 earthquake. Ratana's actions in removing the
stone, at the request of many Wairarapa people, increased
his mana in the eyes of many Wairarapa Maori, and the Church
of the Seven Rules of Jehovah lost many of its followers.
Taiawhio Te Tau, the bishop of the church, left to become
a follower of Ratana.
In 1939 the meetinghouse Nga Tau E Waru
burnt to the ground, destroying the famed carvings and
drawings it held. A new house was built following World
War Two, and named Nga Tau E Waru, in honour of the old
As March 16, 1961 approached thoughts
turned once again to Potangaroa's predictions, and to the
covenant placed within the stone in what was now called
Queen Elizabeth Park. By now the stone was looking a little
worse for wear, and over the years it had developed a lean.
Local historian Keith Cairns agitated to have a formal
ceremony to open the monument, and to update the covenant
placed within it, but he could not convince the then Masterton
Eventually the monument was opened, with
a minimum of fuss, in July and the covenant was removed
from its hiding place in the base. Once again the records
were damaged, and the partially rotted papers were taken
to Alexander Turnbull Library where attempts were made
to repair them. The little that could be read of the covenant
made it clear that they had been placed in the base by
the members of the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah.
At the time of the opening another
set of papers was deposited in the base of the statue,
there to remain until March 16, 2001, when the monument
was once again opened, and the covenant renewed in a