The setting and weather was perfect for the occasion with the natural orchestra of cicadas singing in the background while the welcome took place. Five generations of George’s family were in attendance and Wayne Nepia welcomed everyone onto the grounds.
Whare Hiku replied on behalf of guests. Cyril Dominikovich spoke about
school and basic training days with George. He recalled going to the pictures in the Pollok Hall during 1943/44 and how the world news would be received there.
Adam Scattergood from Awhitu Landcare spoke on how George has held the
hand of that organisationfor the last 20 years and guided them in many of
their decisions. Andrew Sinclair related George to being a local Nelson Mandela and that there was no better custodian than George for Aotearoa. He thanked him for his knowledge of the past 150 years and his willingness to share it with others.
John Allen ARA Park Ranger spoke of George’s caretaking role and said the
world would be a far better place if there were a lot more Georges around. Dr Battistessa spoke on behalf of the Franklin Woodturners Club saying George was a Master woodturner and carver along with being an excellent teacher. George is requested all over NZ to teach and has
the knowledge to take a learner to an expert carver.
Local pastor Jimmy Raumati spoke of looking after the land and forgiveness. Selwyn Herewini George’s nephew outlined format for Hikoi. During the walk stops were made for speakers to present information on the area. First stop – George spoke of the man made lake which allows eels to live safely and grow to maturity. The bigger ones have already migrated back to the sea. The Park rangers have created a eel way
under the road for the eels to come and go by.
Second stop – Brooks Homestead Wayne Aspin spoke of the history of the
homestead and family dating back to 1861. Trish Aspin spoke of the original plants surrounding Brooks Homestead indicating fenced off areas which show some of the original gardens. George helped to excavate these original gardens. With wetlands being preserved, bitterns, tui, kaka, and kereru are among the birds returning. The Californian Microcarpa planted near to the homestead, is believed to be the largest in New Zealand and possibly the world.
Adam Scattergood from Awhitu Landcare spoke on the pest control measures
which taken place over the past 20 years to protect plants farms and reserves in the area. The control of possoms and other pests, including plants, in the district have played a big part in encouraging native species to return and thrive. Third stop – was the top of the hill,
with breathtaking views of the Manukau Harbour and surrounding area. Karl Flavell spoke on building a good relationship with the landowners of the peninsula, which George was instrumental in “Working together yields results,” said Karl.
George told the history of the Pa sites, walking tracks, genealogy and tribal activity of the Awhitu Peninsula. Selwyn Herewini related the story of his Tai Aha (stick) he had carried during the Hikoi. It was originally carved for him by George and Selwyn had taken it with him when he served in Bosnia. Forth stop – Brooks Homestead. After choosing to return via the beach or shady track.
Charmaine Pountney spoke of the 22 year association she and Tanya had on
the Peninsula and the years of working with George. She wished George a very happy birthday and honoured all people saying “there is always a longing to return” Whare Hike closed the Hikoi by acknowledging
George, Selwyn followed the closing directing everyone back for lunch and the enjoyment of the ARA facilities.
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