Dr Elizabeth Kerekere Mourns The Passing Of ‘Te Kuini O Te Awa’ (Queen Of The River) Arconnehi (Aki) Paipper
Arconnehi (Aki) Paipper (80y), leader of Operation Pātiki ki Kohupātiki Marae and known as ‘Te Kuini o Te Awa,’ passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, 4 July 2023. She worked for many years to restore the rightful name of the river formerly known as Clive in Hastings. Dr Elizabeth Kerekere and her staff worked closely with Aki and the whānau since February 2022 to make the ultimately successful applications to the New Zealand Geographic Board.
“Ngā mihi aroha ki te whānau pani i tēnei wā pouri. We are devastated at the passing of Aki Paipper and send our love and sympathy to her whānau. It is wonderful to be at the tangi at Kohupātiki Marae and hear the stories of her life and how much she is loved and respected. First time for me to have a double bass, piano and keyboard as part of the entertainment in the wharenui. Classy as she was, it was only fitting” say Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.
“Only a month ago, we were celebrating with Aki at Kohupātiki Marae that the New Zealand Geographic Board gazetted ‘Te Awa o Mokotūāraro’ as the rightful name of the awa.”
At that time, Aki stated “We are thrilled! Restoring the tīpuna name reinforces the deep spiritual connection we have with our awa. We will restore the mauri of our awa, enhance the well-being of our people and restore the plentiful supply of our fish tāonga, through the return of the name – for the good of all.”
“Now Operation Patiki must fulfil Aki’s vision of restoring the mauri of Te Awa o Mokotūāraro from “source to sea” without her leadership and drive.”
“On the personal note, Aki became like a Nan to me and my staffer, Kerry Peipi, and she was in almost daily contact with us. We have both pledged to continue supporting Operation Pātiki in her name, even after we leave Parliament” concludes Dr Kerekere.
Background: The name comes from the full title of ‘Ngaruroro Moko-tū-ā-raro-ki-Rangatira’ which was decreed by Ruawharo, tohunga (high priest) of the waka Takitimu. It refers to the ripples (ngaru) created by certain fish (upokororo) when they were disturbed as Māhu traversed the awa with his dog. The application for the full name was declined in July 2022 to avoid confusion with the existing Ngaruroro River so the whānau had to reapply to the December 2022 meeting. It then went out for public consultation and was then considered at its April 2023 meeting when it was referred to the Minister for Land Information to make the final determination.