Maori culture plays a part in Patea Methodism
On a Sunday morning at Pariroa marae near Patea, a kapa haka group practices its moves for a forthcoming competition. Its performance presents a full range of experiences – from the tender notes of women’s singing through to fierce warrior chants.
Both the marae and the performance are important elements of Maori Methodism in Patea. Minita-a-iwi and chair of the Pariroa marae trust board Jim Ngarewa explains that the marae has always been a Methodist stronghold.
“I grew up at Pariroa marae and so did (minita-a-iwi) Syd Kershaw. In the 1950s about 200 people lived here. There were no churches on the marae but services were held here. Other churches held services too but its heart was Methodist. We had Methodist summer camps here and singing competitions.
“Now there are only one or two houses left but we still hold a Methodist service at Pariroa once a month,” Jim says.
The most famous cultural group to come out of Patea also has Methodist roots. The Patea Maori Club became a household name in New Zealand through its hit song Poi E and the talents of Dalvanius Prime.
Jim explains that the Patea Maori Club was initially created for local young people by Sid Kershaw’s mother, who was a church woman. When Rev Napi Waka was stationed in Taranaki he encouraged the club to raise its profile. Napi put lots of energy into the club and the rest, as the expression goes, is history.
In addition to services at Pariroa, Jim and Syd have conducted services at Meremere when there is demand. Because many people affiliated with the Methodist Church in Wellington have roots in Patea they were also the natural choice to lead services there as the Taranaki rohe. They also perform
Both Jim and Syd employed full-time, Jim as a secondary school teacher and Syd as a meat inspector. Like all minita-a-iwi, the work they do for the church and for people who require someone to conduct family ceremonies is voluntary.