Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 15, June 1971

by Nell Climie

We are sad to record the death of this highly esteemed Maori member of our Society. Ahi Royal served on our Paeroa Committee until ill-health prevented his attendance, but he never failed to help us in any possible way, his knowledge of local history being of inestimable value. After the death of his older brother Rangi Royal (O.B.E., M.C. and Bar), who had a distinguished career in both Maori Affairs and as a Soldier Ahi became increasingly interested in the study of Genealogy. On his Mother's (Keriata) side he was a member of the Ngati Tamatera being descended from Chief Tukukino of Ohinemuri and on his father's (Kinewa [Kinewe ? - E] Royal) from Te Roera of Otaki. Ahi was one of a large family, only three of whom now survive - Ataneta (Mrs. Brown, Komata, Wi Katane (Komata) and Naki (Mrs. Swainson, Puru). The others were:- Turoa, Titi, Heke (Mrs. Nicholls); Rangi (O.B.E.); Ngahira and Rangimakaora. There are many outstanding descendants.

Educated at the Paeroa District High School and the Thames High School Ahi began a business career in the B.N.Z. but had to abandon this to go home to manage the family farm at Te Komata. He married Martha Sanft, a Tongan Chieftainess and they had five daughters, (Mesdames) Estelle Baker (Paeroa), Pele Rautahi (Auck.), Ainy Winiata (Paeroa), Puhi (Pat) Kidd (Tauranga), Heke Bennett (Paeroa) and one son Kiniwe Royal (now teaching in England). Ahi was a good athlete, playing Rugby for Thames High School and for Paeroa. He served during World War II, and later was President of the Paeroa Golf Club for many years a foundation member of the Ohinemuri Racing Club and a J.P. After the death of his wife, he married Matekino Tukakino and retired to Paeroa till his untimely death on 19th December, 1970, aged 71 years. There are many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In 1943, when an Auckland Student, Myra Powell of Komata, was required to prepare a project on her home district she sought help from Ahi Royal. He not only told her historical facts but wrote them down in his distinctive handwriting. This she included as an important part of her project which has now been given to the Historical Society. As part of our tribute to Ahi we quote from it.

TE KOMATA is the name of the locality which was owned by the Te Kiriwera Tribe, a sub-tribe of the Ngati Tamatera. About fifty (now 80) years ago the tribe was living as a community at a place called Puke Totara and the chief then was a warrior named Te Ahiataewa Tukukino, a near relative of Taraia Ngakuti.

Tukukino was lord over a vast area of land, the northern boundary Te Iringa o Pirori, on the banks of the Waihou River, running in a straight line to Parakiwai on the East Coast, and the southern boundary was Te Puke on the Waihou running due east to Mataora on the East Coast. Features:

a).Trig Station above McKee's - Kotore Kikoke.

b).Black Rock – Ngawhaka Ripanga.

c).A Cleared Patch in heart of bush a mile or so behind Trig Station was safety area during raids by hostile tribes named Patao.

d).The peak above Buchanan's where one pa or redoubt was situated – Potikio Rehua.

e).Pa above Morrison's – Taumaharua.

One of the many incidents that happened in the early days was the attempt by Tukekino [Tukukino – E] to prevent the Govt. from forming the road through his property from Hikutaia to Paeroa. A troop of armed constabulary was despatched from Auck., but the affair was settled by the drawing up of a deed which exempted Tukukino for all time from paying Rates and Taxes.