My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A long wait for Justice for the Ngati Awa

Our ancestry with the Ngati Awa is through my great-grandmother's family.  My great-grandmother was named Annie and her great-grandmother was Mere Te Wia, daughter of Tikitu, a Ngati Awa Chief.
My grandmother Dulcie, with her mother Annie.

Tikitu was chief during the time when the Ngati Awa were accused of treason by the Crown.  He is one of the many Ngati Awa chiefs to attend a "hui or runanga" (meeting) where it was resolved to form a "aukati"(a line drawn in the sand) to keep others out of Ngati Awa territory.
A few months after the hui, on July 22 1865, a ship called the "Kate" carrying James Fulloon, an agent of the Crown and relative of the chief Apanui Hamawaho (of the Te Mautranui) crossed into Ngati Awa territory.  Fulloon insulted his own relatives and in retaliation was killed as well as most of the passengers on board the Kate.  This act was viewed as a rebellion by the Crown, which it was not, and led to a number of attacks against the Ngati Awa.  After a month of battles the Ngati Awa surrendered to the Crown.  A number of the Ngati Awa were tried and either executed or sent to prison.  What followed were many years of struggle as the community attempted to rebuild with many of the leaders gone and being branded as "tangata hara" - criminals.
 Credits to the Journal of the Polynesian Society

The Ngati-Awa were a people that did not easily accept domination by others.  Their resistance to being conquered had led to some conflicts with neighboring "iwi" (tribes).  One such battle led by Rahiri drove the Ngati-Awa out of many of their strongholds.  Whereas the Ngati-Awa were considered a friendly people who lived with the tribes they "conquered" in equality, such was not their fate when Rahiri attacked.  The Ngat Awa were forced to flee for their lives and were termed as "dogs - their bones undeserving of a resting place.  They were piled into creek beds and placed in heaps in rocky places and received no honor".   Credits to the Journal of the Polynesian Society
It is reassuring today that despite the challenges and loss from the past that the Ngait Awa have rebuilt themselves without access to government resources or a tribal trust board.  Today there is a tribal authority, radio station, College, and a meeting house that was taken was returned in 1996.  Once all the grievances of the past are resolved the tribe's motto, taken from the dying words of Ngati Awa and Ngai Tuhoe cheif Te Mautaranui, will take on a new and more positive meaning: He manu hoa ahau, he pi ka rere - I am a fledgling, a newborn bird just learning to fly.  Credits to the "Ngati Aa Today" Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.  March 2009
There is much strength to be taken from this history by our family as we struggle with our losses.

I reach out over time, to my ancestors,
the Ngati Awa,
their bony white hands clasp mine.
They understand betrayal and loss.
Lands were confiscated, accusations made.
Decimated and dishonored,
Not even their bones would be given a resting place,
pushed into piles with rocks, dirt.
Treated by their conquerors as dogs, cattle.
It would be many years before there was justice.
There is comfort in a shared history,
we take the strength of their eventual victory.
Never feel alone, our paths are one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Ngati Awa

Betty is a descendent of the Ngati Awa.  The Ngati Awa traces it's origins to the arrival on the Maori settlers on the Mataatua waka (canoe) who established themselves in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. The Mataatua is one of the great voyaging canoes which the Polynesians used to migrate to New Zealand.

The Mataatua Canoe

The Ngati Awa migrated from the north in about 1600 due to conflicts with neighboring iwi (tribes). One group went down the coast to Waitara in Taranaki and the other group went east to Tauranga.  In the mid-1880s the Ngati Awa started to trade with the European settlers.  Relations went well until 1866 when under the pretext of punishment for rebellion the Nagati Awa and their neighbouring Nataatua relations had their land confiscated.  Hamiora Tamutar Pio, a paramount chief of the Ngati Awa, describes the effect of losing their lands:
"This is a fact; I live like the Albatross,
Crying out to its nesting place, and greeting you in sorrow."
This injustice was not rectified until 2003 when a settlement agreement was put in place.  Today there are about 17,000 people registered with the Te Runanga-o-Ngati Awa.

A carving representing Tihori, ancestor of the Ngati Awa.

Credits to the "Ngati Awa today".  Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.  March 2009

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Zealand seduces the newlyweds

Eddy was in New Zealand less than a month when he reports back to his family on the farm that he thinks they should all move there.  He is under the impression that the farmers in New Zealand make a lot of money without having to work too hard.  He visited a dairy farm where a couple were able to milk 88 cows by themselves due to the sophisticated milk parlour. Eddy saw a lot of similarities between New Zealand and Switzerland. So unlike the Ferme Fleur de Lys the farms in New Zealand were completely developed and ready to make a good income.

It is apparent that the harsh winters on the farm have taken their toll as Eddy is quick to notice that "it is such an easy country to live in, the pipes never freeze, they are just left on top of the ground".  He marvels at the loaded fruit trees, lemons and grapefruits ready for picking in the backyard.  Eddy has noticed that the "soil is so rich and light that we can dig it up with a fork".  He proposes that the family prepare the farm to sell and then move to New Zealand in a couple of years time so that it would be "easier for our old days, in a country where we don't have to fight against nature".  He declares that in New Zealand it is "a holiday to work on the farm compared with us where we are".

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Apple Pie Lessons

In my ongoing quest for apple pie I have tried to follow my Aunt Michelle's instructions.  She makes a beautiful pie somewhat reminiscent to what her mother, Renee, used to make.  Each time I visit with her I receive lessons in pie making and dutifully write the recipe down in my notebook.
Following is her recipe for pie:

200 grams of flour
125 grams of butter
Mix the flour and the butter together.
Slowly add about 15 ml of cold water  and 2 ml of salt and make the mixture into a ball.  Put the ball of dough into the fridge for half an hour.
The dough is now ready to roll out.

 Michelle places the dough on parchment paper with a piece of wax paper over the top in order to avoid sticking on the rolling pin.

The pie ready for the fruit.

My Aunt Michelle and daughter, Marlee.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cherry Pie

There is something very comforting about family recipes.  It is one way to reach across the generations and keep family stories alive.  Renee was an inspired cook.  She used simple, wholesome ingredients with the ample use of herbs and garlic.  She kept a large garden for many years, and her meals emphasized in season vegetables and fruits.  My favorites were her soups and pies.

I have tried to recreate her pies and have had numerous lessons from her daughter, Michele. Failing being able to make a pie I have resorted to trying to find a bakery that sells a pie reminiscent of those childhood pies of my grandmother.  The Pie Company in Salmon Arm came quite close and inspired the  following poem:

It was the tartness of the cherries in the pie
that suddenly brought me to my grandmother.
The may pies she made with their dark crusts,
blackened syrup on the edges,
the fruit always tart and from trees or bushes close to her home.
And from there I drifted to her loamy garden soil,
sweetened with coffee grounds and old tea bags.
Her hands plunged deep between the plants, and coming up,
sifting through and pulling out the small white weed roots.
This is how you do it properly, weeding, carefully,
watering only the soil, it takes so much time.
That was a very good piece of pie.

My grandmother and I, circa late 1980s.