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Te Rangikawehea (Tiki) Hunia
Te Rangikawehea (Uncle Dick to most of us) was a gentleman who knew how to work hard but he was also an astute thinker and very thorough planner.
He was also very generous in sharing out some of his very clever ideas. I can recall asking him once, “How many crops of kamokamo can you grow in the same field in a season?” His reply astounded me “E rima (five) “ he told me with a broad smile. I indicated my incredulity and he said to me “I will tell you how I do it, but don’t you tell anyone else.” So he told me in great detail. It was most ingenious but I did promise not to tell a soul and I will keep to that.
Thus to my mind our Uncle Dick was, in many ways rather enigmatic. He could do so many things, and he could do them with proper style. To use a little-known Samoan expression, “No matter what you do, it is important that you do it with style….” By that I am reminded of a recollection he shared with me once. It is always “good business to deal with Samoans.. Ko taku patai atu “He aha ai?” Ka ki mai a ia “Ka eke kau atu nga kamokamo ki ta ratou taraka, kua utua mai koe, engari ko nga Maori, “Taihoa kia hokona atu e au ka utu atu ai ki a koe, ngaro atu ana era Maori mo ake tonu atu….” (I asked him “Why?” and he told me “As soon as their truck is loaded with kamokamo, they pay you, but the Maori traders say “Wait, when I have sold them I will pay you, and then they disappear for evermore……”: However he still dealt with the Maori traders but later deals (if any) were “Pay me before we load up…..”
Uncle Dick was also a very strong family man to his wife Irihapeti and their many children. He loved all his children but he also expected them to have a high respect for their parents and also to have an equally high regard to hard work like he did. Some years ago their daughter Mero died and I can recall him telling me on the 40th anniversary of her passing “People very kindly say that time heals, but for me that is not true, it still hurts as much now as it did then.” Gently spoken words, and so very true.
Our Uncle Dicks other strong points were his years of devoted service to his people in the administration of their landholdings. I spent many years with him, firstly on Omataroa 10A incorporation (quarry at Awakeri), Omataroa-Rangitaiki No 2 Trust (forest at Te Teko) and Putauaki Trust (farms at Kawerau and at Te Teko) My recollections of him are very warm and most enlightening. His counsel was always very astute and very businesslike. He was a pleasure to work with and the legacy he leaves will be long remembered and revered by future generations of our people.
Koia nei ra oku mihi ki a koe e te Papa E Tiki, nau i tautohe nga take e tika ana kia tautohetia, e ora ai tatou o hapu ki Te Teko nei, otira ki te motu hoki.E nama katoa ana matou katoa ki a koe, tera ranei ka ea a tona wa, tera pea….
E te Papa, e moe, e moe, moe mai ra, he wa tona e tutaki ano ai tatou katoa……..






Te Nani Charles VERCOE
Te Nani was born around the time of ‘te slump,’ the economic depression of the 1930’s when many people saw hard times which haunted them for the rest of their lives. His mother Te Rakatairi Raki Hawea died when he was still a youngster and most of his upbringing was spent with his eldest sister Matekooti Rikihana.
As with many other children of those times, his formal education began and ended at Te Teko Native School (as it was called in those days) and thereafter he was sent out to work as a poorly-paid labourer wherever he could find a job. He spent time around Rotorua and various other work-sites around the North Island of New Zealand.
Despite his lack of skills training he worked his way up and eventually became a senior foreman for Fletcher Construction company in Wellington. He was in charge of the workforce to build the Olympic Swimming pool at Naenae in Lower Hutt and other projects. Unfortunately the local Naenae Hotel was in close proximity and one day he had to travel out from his office in Wellington to discipline his workers (which included his younger brother Poiti) from spending too much time away from their job quenching their thirsts. His message to them when he walked into the pub was a simple one “E hoa ma, kia ahua tika ra nga mahi.” A humbly gentle admonishment which immediately sent his shame-faced workers back to work. He remained always a gentleman although if necessary he could fend for himself if things did ‘get a bit rough.’
In his middle age he returned to his beloved Te Teko where he remained until his passing. His legacy to Te Teko is a tremendous one and it is very difficult to enumerate it all. However, perhaps his greatest gift was the quiet and gentle way that he taught our young men and women about the tikanga and kawa for our various protocols, tangihanga and so on. Some people sniggered about this at the time but the plan worked and all the knockers are now mute and so they should be. All the people at Te Teko are proud of our young folk who grace our pae tapu and this is Te Nani Charles Vercoe’s lasting gift to his people. Me pehea atu he korero? (What more needs to be said?)
To quote the well-known English architect (Sir Christopher Wren) “If you want to see my legacy, look around you.” Te Nani could also say this about Te Teko and elsewhere……..