Spectrum 368. Kāwhia

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Tono kōrero mai

Alwyn Owen looks at the past and present of the township. Owen relays the journey of the Tainui canoe that was moored to one of the great pohutukawa trees before being buried. The great Ngāti Toa fighting chief Te Rauparaha was born here and later the people fought the pākehā for the rich lands of the Waikato. The King Country was a jealously guarded refuge, in 1883 the Māori destroyed the harbour’s beacons and this led to the building of New Zealand’s last blockhouse.

Local pākeha man, Fred [Berg] recalls the pā and people growing up. Now Kāwhia has a population of three to four hundred. Corban Ward, Kāwhia born and bred, acts as historian as he walks with Owen down by the wharf and explains the shift from Kāwhia’s once bustling harbour community to commercial declinefollowing the building of the inland road. Local woman Audrey Kelly talks about Sister Mary Reidy who used to preside over the hospital in its busier days following WWI. Sister Reidy made a name for herself in Kāwhia for her nursing of pneumonia cases and fight to keep the hospital open in later years. Fred [Berg] and Audrey explain how the King Country was not quite as dry as it was thought to be.

Now there is an excellent golf course, indoor and outdoor bowls, an annual Regatta, a library and a pub. Inside the latter Owen speaks with locals, Bill Edwards and local character known as John the Baptist, about Kāwhia’s unemployment, the population change, Māori and pākehā and local police presence. An interview with a visiting fisherman on the wharf about his perceptions of Kāwhia. Lorraine Taylor and her husband have been fishing all their lives, originally from Manakau, they’ve been five years in Kāwhia and chose to settle because they appreciate the ‘good life’. She explains the range of fishing that makes up the little industry in Kāwhia.

The iron sands project at Taharoa and a pine forestry scheme offer the little settlement some hope for the future in terms of employment. Gussie Whitiora, who lives next to the marae is concerned with the future and helping the young to stay if they can. She is a great believer of the traditional Māori way of life, of sharing what they have and helping each other on the marae. Fred [Berg] recognises that apart from farming Kāwhia doesn’t offer much but remains confident the new forestry scheme will rectify that in time.

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Year 1981

Reference number 21690

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer

Duration 00:31:49

Date 25 Jun 1981

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