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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Uawa's “House of Learning”

Uawa's “House of Learning”

“Te Ra-wheoro,” which stood near Tolaga Bay, is claimed to have been the most famous “House of Learning” in New Zealand. Other sacred buildings of a like character in the Poverty Bay-East Coast area were: “Te Aho Matariki,” at Whangara; “Puhikai-iti,” near the site of the Cook Monument at Gisborne; “Tapere-nui-a-Whatonga,” near East Cape; and “Te Tuahu” and “Whare-korero,” which were also on the East Coast. J. E. Dalton, who became a well-known identity on the East Coast, stated that “Te Ra-wheoro” stood on what is now the Paremata soldiers' settlement block. In other quarters, it is suggested that it originally stood on Mangaheia No. 1 block.

According to Dalton, the building was about 63 feet long and 26 feet wide. Several old pu korero (men of knowledge) whom he consulted told him that there was a verandah on the eastern end; that a fireplace stood in the centre of the main portion; and that the “Holy of Holies” was at the western end. Instruction was divided into two classes—celestial and terrestrial. The celestial lore pertained to Io, the Supreme Being, the primal parents and their offspring, the upper world and cosmogonic myths. Amongst the terrestrial knowledge imparted was information concerning the homeland of the race, traditions, migrations, tribal history and other matters of worldly importance.