Te Poaki O Rae
Bears Marae Quest Continues
Bear left the main road and off we went in search of the marae shown on the map, is this a B road.
Ngaa Kitai Taria is Aitutaki’s resident archaeologist and for the past ten years has been the driving force behind clearing and excavating some of the island’s ancient ceremonial sites that have long been overgrown and hidden. His work is controversial amongst some of Aitutaki’s residents who fear the sites as sacred or tapu and have been taught to stay away from them. Ngaa knows these restrictions well having grown up on the island with his grandparents. “None of my family would go near these old sites. We were forbidden from going on them in case something happened. Now some people on the island are curious, others are offended.”
Ngaa stayed on Aitutaki until he was sixteen and then went to Australia to live. In the early 1990’s he began building his house on the island but returned to Australia to work. He came to live here full time with his wife and children in 2002. Working under the guidance of Mark Eddowes, a field archaeologist and researcher from French Polynesia, Ngaa and his local team embarked on the painstaking process of excavating the ancient sites and documenting their finds. Among their discoveries have been a ceremonial adze and a tattoo comb made of human bone. The basalt rocks that define the sacred areas of the marae have been unearthed and are standing upright again. Carbon dating from Paengariki marae, the first site to be explored, reveal it was originally established in around 1000 A.D.
For Ngaa, discovering his island’s history through the excavations has been part of discovering his own identity. “I started to crave for my identity, I really wanted to know who I am.” This led to wider research and discussions with the older people of the island to find out about Aitutaki’s traditions and history.
After getting lost a few times, we ended up at the island tip. The road beside it was grassy and looked like a dead end. We asked a young chap on his motorbike who said we were nearly there, we had to go past the tip and we would see the sign, that will be a new experience as signs are not a common sight. Arriving, we found Te Poaki O Rae very neat and well looked after.
Bear wondered if the little stones were for little people. Mmmmm.
I loved the tree next to this lone stone.
Back in our trusty little steed, time to carry on.
ALL IN ALL A NICE LITTLE STOP
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED