A battle of physical and mental stamina ensued when Hinemaurea Ki Wharekahika marae pitted their collective strength against their whanaunga from just over the hill, Hinerupe marae during the tug-o-war finals at the 2013 Ngati Porou Inter marae Festival (aka Pa Wars).
The tug-o- war provides the grand finale to the annual event which is held on the 3rd of January. In 2013 the Pa Wars was held in Tokomaru Bay and each year an army of marae volunteers work behind the scenes to organise their troops.
The Hinemaurea marae 2013 Pa Wars team was co-ordinated by Waitangi Chesley and Te Ua Houkamau. Waitangi (seen at the centre of the photo wearing sunglasses, jandals and singlet) lives in Hicks Bay. While Te Ua (seen standing directly behind Waitangi with arm outstretched) is based in Melbourne. The epic showdown was eventually won by the Hinemaurea marae crew, and in the korero below Waitangi describes what it was like taking part in the finals, and how Te Whanau a Tuwhakairiora pulled together to create their Pa Wars team.
“O.M.G. That was so intense! No clear winner and not knowing which way it was gonna go. The atmosphere was like, electric! I remember the crowd going wild, it was just like last year’s NPEC Meads Cup finals. The supporters (from both marae) were the best. If it wasn’t for the crowd cheering our team on, I don’t think we would have made it. Our only strategy was to give it heaps and scream as loud as we could.”
“Our Pa Wars team had been in recess for a few years, but Te Ua was keen to get our marae out there again this year. So he went on Facebook to gauge interest. He also set up an online survey for whanau and it went from there. It was hard for some whanau who didn’t have access to Facebook or the internet, but by word of mouth it ended up working out well."
"Aunty Ani did a bit of ground work too, and organised our huge as, meke banner and also our accommodation in Tokomaru Bay the night before. She also got me to organise the t-shirts which I must admit that I’m not in a hurry to do again. It’s quite a big job.”
“We had roughly about 100 people in our team, which was one of the biggest we’ve ever had. Participation was and still is our main focus. We do like to try and be competitive, and for some it’s quite natural. I mean, who doesn’t like to win? Or lose for that matter. In saying that, as a whole its not about competitiveness. It’s about having fun! Everyone loves to win, but to us winning is a bonus.”
“Everyone from our team absolutely loved this year’s Pa Wars, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Considering Tokomaru didn’t have much time to organise it, they did it extremely well. To me Pa Wars is a perfect way for Ngati Porou to come together as one, and celebrate being a Naati. It brings people home, and it most definitely is about identity and being proud of where you come from.
"Pa wars also benefits our marae through the cash prizes. Marae are always in need of money because they cost a lot to run. Hinemaurea is used quite frequently and for most groups (local schools etc) there is no charge. So any little bit of money helps, and this year we did well and made the most money that we ever have. It wasn’t much, but it’s the most. So we’re making progress.”