11 May 2011

Heke's bones moved by descendant

9:38 pm on 11 May 2011

One Hone Heke's descendants says he has taken the great chief's bones from a cave in Northland to move them elsewhere.

Heke was buried in 1850 near Pakaraka east of Kaikohe on land owned by the missionary Henry Williams.

Hone Heke Foundation chair David Rankin says the move is because of development in the area where the bones are buried.

Mr Rankin says the shift took place early on Wednesday.

He says the bones were wrapped in a flax shroud and blessed by the Anglican Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau, Te Kitohi Pikaahu, before being moved to a new location, a urupa in Kaikohe.

Prominent Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua says Mr Rankin is acting alone and failed to consult any other hapu in the area with links to Hone Heke.

He says Mr Rankin is meddling where he should not be.

He says he has failed to consult Ngati Kawa, who have manawhenua in the area, or any other hapu with links to Hone Heke Pokai.

Mr Taurua says many people in the north - himself included - can claim stronger links to the chief than Mr Rankin and his continual efforts to promote the connection are bizarre.

Kaikohe kaumatua Ron Wihongi says Mr Rankin is acting alone, without authority or knowledge.

He says the bones of Hone Heke lie in a cave on a fenced reserve, mixed with the bones of others.

Mr Wihongi says that even if Mr Rankin knew which bones were Heke's, he has no right to move them without consulting hapu more closely related to the great chief.

He says Mr Rankin's father was a prominent elder on marae there, but he himself is rarely seen and his plan appears to be a misguided stunt to elevate his profile among Ngapuhi.

Mr Wihongi says Mr Rankin has failed to return his calls, but he would challenge him in person if he were not 80 and bed-ridden.