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Responsibility History Story: Princess Te Puea  © Jenny Jenkins 2015      https://sites.google.com/site/valueslessons

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Tiahuia Herangi was the daughter of King Tawhiao, New Zealand's second Maori king. One day she told her young daughter Te Puea, 'If I should die, return home and take care of my people.'
Te Puea was at school in Auckland when her mother died. She immediately returned to Te Paina, a tiny Maori village on the banks of the Waikato River. At fifteen years old, she took up the leadership of the group of villages where her hapu, her extended family lived.
Around a hundred people lived at Te Paina in 1910. It became a sanctuary where elderly people who had lost their land were welcomed and given a home. 

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Three years later an epidemic struck, and many of her village people fell sick. ‘It looks like chicken pox,’ thought Te Puea. ‘They’re covered in spots.’ But soon she realised that it was much more serious. It was the killer disease smallpox. No-one in her tribe had been vaccinated.
She called together those who were well and strong. 'We’ll build open airy shelters down by the river,' she told them. “Then we’ll move the sick into them, so their families don’t catch smallpox too.” 

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Te Puea helped to feed the sick and nurse them back to health. It was exhausting work, and it took several weeks before her patients began to recover.
To stop smallpox from spreading, no one was allowed into the village to bring food, so they ate eels and fish from the river, and pigeons from the bush. Although hundreds of New Zealanders died of smallpox, all those Te Puea cared for recovered.
World War One began in 1914, but in the tiny village of Te Paina life continued on as it had for centuries. The Waikato Maori were reluctant to go to war. 

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Their leader, King Tawhiao, had told them before he died, 'The killing of men must stop.' Towards the end of the war, however, the men were forced to join the army and sent up to Auckland to train as soldiers.
Before their training was complete, the war ended and Te Puea welcomed them home with a feast of celebration.
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It was wonderful to have their young men home unharmed. With them, however, came a silent enemy. It killed more Maori people than had died in the First World War. Its name was influenza, or the 'Spanish flu'.
Within a week of the soldiers returning, more than half of the village lay sick. Very sick; with a high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, pains in the chest and a burning dryness in the mouth. Almost everyone aged between twenty and forty caught the flu. In many homes, whole families were ill together.
Te Puea watched, broken hearted, as one person died, then another, then dozens. Too many to even write down their names. Before long, only three men were still well. 
(Show Image 6) One made coffins. The other two filled them with the dead and loaded them into Te Puea’s boat. 
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Each morning, while the river was misty and silent, they made the long trip upriver to their burial ground. There they struggled the coffins ashore, dug a wide grave, and buried them. People were too sick to mourn. For three weeks, village life was a nightmare.
Te Puea was sick too, but she had promised her mother to care for her people. 
Day after day she dragged herself out of bed, hardly able to stand up. Her head pounded painfully as she boiled water on the fire. 

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Gasping for breath, she carried it to those who had no one to care for them. She cooked kumara and shared it amongst the hungry. Then, her body aching, she crawled back into bed.
One morning Te Puea again struggled out of bed. She wanted to get clean water so that people could wash. The whares were beginning to smell. She felt too weak to carry water up from the river. Her chest hurt each time she drew breath and her arms ached. She stood in the door of her whare, searching for help.
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A few young children hung listlessly around, with no one to tend them. Flies buzzed in and out of doorways. Those who had not fallen sick were busy caring for their families.
A high-pitched wail split the silence. 
'Water! Give me water!' Te Puea winced. A rumour had gone through the village that the sick should not be given water. ‘Was this truth or lies?’ she wondered. The English doctor from the nearby town of Mercer hadn’t come to help them. No one knew what to do. 
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Te Puea gave boiled water to those she was caring for, but others didn’t. Tears trickled down her cheeks at the desperate wail for water.
Suddenly a man burst out of a whare, screaming. Her heart quickened as he ran wildly towards her, raving like a madman and waving his arms. Shrieking loudly, he raced past and plunged into the river, gulping in the fresh, cool water. Then he crawled slowly up the bank and lumbered back to his whare. A few days later he began to get better.
When the disease passed, long tangi were held, and the survivors mourned their dead. 
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Everone had lost family and friends. Many children were orphaned.
After the tangi, Te Puea climbed on board her boat and set off down the river to a nearby village. When she arrived the people clustered around her. Tears glistened in their eyes at seeing their dearly loved leader, alive and well. She gathered together the orphans and the elderly who no longer had families to care for them. Helping them aboard her boat, she took them back to Te Paina and settled them into homes there. This trip was repeated to each of the villages under her care. 
  
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She moved over a hundred orphans to Te Paina. The whole village opened their hearts and homes to the children, and Te Puea was a mother to them all. Helping cook their meals, she fed them all in the village dining hall. She made sure that she saw each of the children every day. They loved taking turns to stay in her whare (house). She was their schoolteacher too. Te Paina grew into a village of life, love and laughter. 
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The children adored Te Puea, and as they grew up, they became her faithful workers. When she bought ten acres of wasteland on the banks of her beloved Waikato River at Ngaruawahia, they helped her clear away the blackberry and scrub, drain the swamp, and level the ground. Together they built a village with a marae and meeting house called Tūrangawaewae.
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This was a home fit for a king; it was built as a home for the Maori King. And there the Maori king still lives today. 


© Jenny Jenkins 2015   Resource: Te Puea. A Life. By Michael King. Reed Publishers 

Discussion Questions
1. What did Te Puea sacrifice to meet her responsibility as leader of her people? (Youth, education etc.)
2. Why did no-one in her village die of smallpox? (She placed the sick in quarantine outdoor shelters and nursed them.)
3. Why did Te Puea nurse her people even though she herself was so sick that she could hardly crawl out of bed? (To fulfill her responsibility to her people, because she had promised her mother that she would care for them.)

Visual Aid
Print out the images, or make a powerpoint presentation to help your students to visualise the story.

Image 1 Te Puea young https://ngatinahotrust.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/ngati-naho-turangawaewae-marae-image-2.png?w=640

Image 2 Marae by river http://www.aesthete.co.nz/images/w%20a%20bollard%20maori%20life,%20waikato%20river.jpg

Image 3 Shelter by river: http://www.organicexplorer.co.nz/site/organicexplore/images/maori/cultural_tourism/waka_shelter_1.jpg

Image 4 King Tawhiao https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/King_Tawhiao_Potatau_Te_Wherowhero,_by_Gottfried_Lindauer.jpg/616px-King_Tawhiao_Potatau_Te_Wherowhero,_by_Gottfried_Lindauer.jpg

Image 5 Soldiers http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/AWNS_19150527_p043_i005_b.jpg

Image 6 Coffin: http://longarmwranch.com/caskets/images/casket_17.jpg

Image 7 Mist on Waikato River http://flikie.s3.amazonaws.com/ImageStorage/1e/1ed93894b36b4a96b3fdfea6dcfd4176.jpg

Image 8 Water heating http://www.ridgerunnertinyhomes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/water-campfire.jpg

Image 9 Young child https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/57/b8/77/57b877a930a57de6f108ed0f29d914e2.jpg

Image 10 Water calabash http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/APICollection/media/344343/350/250

Image 11 Tangi http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/etexts/Salient37231974/Salient37231974_005b(h280).jpg

Image 12 Old people and children http://www.teara.govt.nz/files/40180-aart.jpg

Image 13 Te Puea adult: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/etexts/Gov11_06Rail/Gov11_06Rail017a.jpg

Image 14 Tūrangawaewae http://www.heritage.org.nz/content/images/register/4170a_lg.jpg?w=622&h=350&scale=both