The following is a contribution to the Pirongia Bells family history blog from Bella Pease. Bella is a Kawhia-born relative and Ngati Hikairo. Here is some additional information she has provided about our family history.
I am Bella Pease. I was born at Kawhia and my great grandmother is Pera Pohepohe, sister to Te Anu Pohepohe, the mother of John Honi Ruki McGruther. John’s father Robert was a soldier with the British military who fought the Maoris at the Taranaki land war in 1865. Pera’s father was Pohepohe, a great Kawhia chief who went to Taranaki to assist the Maoris there against the British.
When that war ended Robert McGruther went to live at Kawhia. Here he met and married Te Anu, the daughter of chief Pohepohe, one of the Hikairo Maoris he was fighting against at Taranaki. That’s how I’m related to the Pirongia Bells – from Pera Pohepohe through her sister Te Anu and McGruther.
We share the same ancestral turangawaiaia (historical foothold), this being Rangiahau, the principal Tainui pa in ancient times. It was situated on a high place on the northern end of Kawhia Harbour and was the home and eventual resting place of Hoturoa and his wife Whakaoterangi. Many notable Kawhia people were spawned from this place, including Te Rangi Topera, the ‘Queen of the South’ who was one of the five high ranking women to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. She was the niece of Te Ruaparaha and first cousin to another famous warrior-chief, Wiremu Tamihana.
Rangiahau was also the place during the days of the Maori King Movement where the annual Pouaka (king movement ceremonial celebration) was held, the first one taking place 12 March, 1885. Tainui were heavily involved in the King Movement from the 1880’s into the early 1900’s.