Tarawera tamariki revisit 1880s for eruption commemorations

By Aroha Treacher
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Today marks 130 years since the violent eruption of Mt Tarawera, a disaster that killed around 120 people, mostly Māori. School children from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu came along in 18th-century dress to be a part of the commemorations.

Retracing the footsteps of their ancestors who were buried by the eruption in 1886.

The principal from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu Uenuku Fairhall told Te Kāea, “Many of them descend from those who passed, and also it is here that the survivors left, despite being weary and injured, they made the long walk to Ohinemutu, where they were welcomed by Ngāti Whakaue.”

The eruption lasted six hours and destroyed numerous Māori villages, valuable history these children have come to learn about.

Fairhall says, “The problem is with television if there is a programme on Tarawera being screened then that is awesome, otherwise we shouldn't just rely on television we should make sure that we are talking about it.”

The volcanic explosion saw plumes of ash 10km into the sky and destroying the iconic hot springs known as the Pink and White Terraces on Lake Rotomahana.

“We will never forget this day because it was one of the most tragic disasters to happen amongst us,” says Rangitihi Pene a descendant of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao.

New Zealand volcanoes still pose a risk today, thus, a geological hazard monitoring scheme is in place, GeoNet that raises an alarm when volcanic activity increases.

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