Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe - Looking back through the lens

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Te Kāea looks back at the festival during the 1970's through images taken by a well-known Māori photographer, John Miller. He and the late Hirini Melbourne were tasked with the project to publish a school journal, capturing images of this unique festival. 

It's a snapshot of Tūhoe 40 years ago.

“It was very fascinating because a lot of locals were a bit bemused about what I was doing,” says photographer John Miller.

Miller captured priceless images like these of the late John Rangihau, founder of the Tūhoe Festival. Many of these photos have been shared among Tūhoe but some still remain unseen.

Miller told Te Kāea, “I hooked up with the late Hirini Melbourne i sent the negatives to Wellington. So they made the photos that they wanted for the book and most of the negatives got lost. So I'm still very annoyed about that 40 years down the track.”

Miller was living in Wellington when he was assigned by the Education Department to capture photos for the Wharekura 31 journal.  His introduction to the Tūhoe Festival started with an interesting bus trip.

“Some of the empties clinked out on to the steps and out on to the road,” says Miller.

The following day Miller captured the true essence of the festival. An iwi embodying their Tūhoe identity. 

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