Dawn blessing for Karaka Grove

Craig Kawana stands infront of one of three newly carved pou

Karaka Grove at the Manawatū campus was reopened with a dawn blessing today.

Representatives from Horizons Regional Council, Massey University, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Palmerston North City Council and Rangitāne were present.

The redevelopment of the grove was necessary after original carved pou had deteriorated after nearly three decades since the grove was opened in April, 1988.

A community committee was formed to revitalise the grove. The original pou, carved by John Bevan Ford of Ngāti Raukawa and Warren Warbrick of Rangitāne, were buried at a ceremony on June 20 this year.

Three new pou were designed and carved by Craig Kawana of Rangitāne in memory of Mr Ford, who died in 2005. The carvings are arranged in the style of a pātaka (food store), while part of the design detail represents the pāhiatua (resting place of gods) used to secure rich harvests.

It forms part of Massey University’s botanic garden that will link the city, the University and the hills beyond via a shared pedestrian path.

The area is on the site of a battle fought against invaders by Rangitāne in 1820. Karaka trees had provided food and shelter for many generations of Rangitāne people who settled in this area, and provides a physical and spiritual link with the human history of the land on which it stands. Six karaka trees were kept when land was cleared to honour its history. The grove was maintained and flourished when the land was purchased for the Massey Agricultural College in 1926.

In 1972 it was fenced off and, in 1981, a garden under the trees was started by the Massey University Department of Horticultural Science. The grove was in the Rangitāne traditional style of guardian stockade posts last used at the Puketōtara Pā in the 1800s.

Dick Earle (left), John Wheeler, Massey Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, Craig Kawana, Mahina Kawana, Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith

New additions

A new addition unveiled today is a sculpture carved by Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts student Clayton Tansley, sitting near the entrance to the grove – an acknowledgement of the surrounding regions, Ruahine, Apiti, Tararua and Manawatū.

The steel entranceway to the grove was made by Israel Birch, a lecturer at Massey’s School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education, Pūtahi-a-Toi.

To coincide with the revitalisation of the grove, the associated grassed area includes pā harakeke (New Zealand flaxes) with specimen harakeke plants from local and national collections, complimented by other native plantings. 

Israel Birch and Clayton Tansley


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