Mō te pani, te pouaru me te rawakore
At a Poukai hui in the 1960s, kaumatua Henare Tuwhangai was instructed by King Korokī to explain the full meaning of the Poukai. Tuwhangai explained, because of the colonial war in Aotearoa, food resources, water and people were all gone. Absolutely gone! Peace must now be the focus followed by the task of growing food and resources.
The task was now to start working together and start planting and building up resources and food for the wellbeing of the people. He went on to speak about looking to the stars and naming them which indicated the seasons and times to plant and harvest.
In April 1884 King Tāwhiao led a delegation to England to speak with Queen Victoria to honour the Treaty and return their lands. Tāwhiao did not have the opportunity to speak with Queen Victoria but her officials instructed Tāwhiao to return to Aotearoa and speak with the Government.
Tāwhiao returned to Aotearoa and decided to pull his people together to build resources and plant food, hei oranga mō Te Pani, Te Pouaru me Te Rawakore (to care for the bereaved, the widowed and the destitute). After King Tāwhiao returned from England, the first Poukai was held in 1885, at Whatiwhatihoe, which was a settlement near Pirongia. At that time, it was called ‘He Puna Kai’ and later changed to Poukai.
The significance of the Poukai today is to bring the tribe together, to uphold protocols and tikanga and discuss tribal matters. The Poukai is also a remembrance day for some marae. For example;
The Poukai at Papaorotu is in memory of King Tāwhiao
The Poukai at Turangawaewae is in memory of King Mahuta
The Poukai at Te Awamarahi is in memory of King Te Rata
The Poukai at Waahi is in memory of King Korokī
The Poukai in Rotorua is in memory of Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu
The first Poukai at Taniwha marae was held on Saturday, February 8 1964. Taniwha Poukai is in remembrance of Taamati Manuhiri Hērangi who was the brother of Te Atairangikaahu Mahuta (King Korokī's wife).