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Hōkai Rangi Pou anchors Mount Eden and community

27 September 2021
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It was a poignant moment before dawn on Monday, 9 August 2021, when representatives of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei, Te Waiohua and Waikato-Tainui, unveiled Te Hōkai Rangi pou at Mount Eden Community Corrections and also performed a whakamoemiti (blessing) at the site.

The ceremony took place as part of the launch of the inaugural Probation Mobility project Prototype at the service centre.

“I believe it is fitting here to acknowledge that in 1995 kaumātua (elders) Takutai Wikiriwhi (Ōrākei), Eru Thompson (Waikato) and the late Des Ripi (Ngāti Whātua) played a key role in the first opening of the Mount Eden Community Corrections service centre,” says Area Advisor Māori Toko Nathan.

Carvers at Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF) made and gifted Te Hōkai Rangi pou to Mount Eden Community Corrections to mark its new direction as ‘workplace of choice’.

“At its essence, the pou symbolises ‘Te Puawaitanga o Te Ao’, which means, ‘The seed has blossomed in the world’, aligning it to the Department’s Hōkai Rangi strategy and Ara Poutama values,” says Toko.

In his address, General Manager Probation and Case Management Darius Fagan said, “Seeing the pou being unveiled by mana whenua, was an uplifting experience.

“The pou is carrying the mauri [life force] of all of us; it is watching over us, serving both as an inspiration for and a focal point of the work we do and the people we support.”

NRCF Vocational Training Instructor Alf Burling says the carvers who created the pou, are extremely proud of their whakairo gift to Mount Eden Community Corrections.

“The carvers understand the pou symbolises the whakapapa of Hōkai Rangi, not only for staff, but also for all people who visit or report to the service centre, as well as the wider community.

Even more special, is that one of the carvers, who is preparing for his release from NRCF, will be further supported at the Mount Eden service centre and will be able to see his handiwork on display as a free man,” says Alf.

In a nutshell, the pou encompasses the concepts of good and bad, through a portrayal of the brothers, Rongomaraeroa and Whiro; the one cannot exist without the other.

“You cannot rid the world of evil, but you can move away from it. This will be a journey familiar to the people we manage,” explains Alf.

“So, at the centre of the pou one will see the turmoil and tension between these two elements. Specific features to the sides and at the rear of the pou depict the people who provide support to the people we manage, such as Corrections’ and Probation Officers, external agencies, and most importantly, whānau.

“The base on which the pou rests, portrays the third brother, Tangaroa and his purifying waters, with the matakupenga design symbolising safety and oneness,” says Alf.

Staff members at Mount Eden Community Corrections are in awe of the pou and appreciate the gift and its significance.

“We have installed this very special taonga in the Ngākau [heart] space of our redesigned office, where it now serves as the Hōkai Rangi anchor of Mount Eden and its wider community,” says Lead Service Manager Minda Tawhai

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Mount Eden Probation Officers Geoff Hodgman (left) and Hale Faiumu gifted tapa cloth from their respective Fijian and Tongan families to cover the pou during its sacred journey from NRCF to Mount Eden Community Corrections, and before its unveiling

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Northern Region Operations Director Julie Harrison (right) and then Auckland District Manager Kelsey McIntyre received the pou at a ceremony at NRCF before the taonga started its journey to Auckland.

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Mount Eden Probation Officers Geoff Hodgman (left) and Hale Faiumu gifted tapa cloth from their respective Fijian and Tongan families to cover the pou during its sacred journey from NRCF to Mount Eden Community Corrections, and before its unveiling