My Town Series - Isolated Hawkes Bay community brings Māori & European together

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

In the southernmost part of Hawke's Bay, the small coastal township of Porangahau is home to the longest place name in the country.

It's a predominantly Māori community, but as Richard Wynne-Lewis from the local sports club explains, "I think as a community we are combined really well, the European and Māori have a great understanding of togetherness. We appreciate each other cultures."

Keri Ropiha says Porangahau is different because Māori and European communities are willing to help each other. "We are far removed from everybody else. Out here you have to make the most of the resources you've got. So the biggest resource is the people we've got here, who love doing community things."

Judy Sciascia says the community is so close, they keep each other informed. "Normally we tell everyone the pipis are up and everyone comes down with their buckets".

Porangahau visitors not only drop by to see its tranquil surroundings and kaimoana, but also to see the country's longest place name. That's, Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu, but locals simply call it Taumata Hill.

Tamatea was a famous chief and warrior, local resident, Raina Ferris says, "It talks about the peak or the taumata where Tamatea sat and played his kōauau or Māori flute in lament for the loss of his brother who was killed in a battle here."

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