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A Queen’s Service Medal for Kenny Trinder

Kenny Trinder’s first reaction to the email telling him of his Queen’s Birthday Honour was to press delete because he thought it was spam.

Kenny Trinder is chairman of Muru Raupatu Marae. Photo: Andy Jackson

‘’I thought, what the hell’s this?’’

But his son Rangi advised him not to delete, Trinder said. And then Rangi had to talk his 70-year-old dad into accepting the award.

Trinder, Te Ātiawa, is chairman of Muru Raupatu Marae, at Bell Block. He has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to Māori and the community.

Since 1998, Trinder has practised the art of carving, Te Toi Wai Whakairo, and has advised many institutions promoting the Te Ātiawa style.

“I asked my cousin if we had any taonga – taiaha – in our family, because I was taking my boy over to Rotorua to do a taiaha course. My cousin said, ‘No, we have nothing, it’s all buried, sold or given away.’ So I said, ‘That’s one of my goals. I’m going to learn how to carve.’’’

Trinder keeps his carving in a room in his house, which is on land his family has owned for 150 years.

The room has become a sacred place, so Trinder says a karakia before inviting people in.

His latest carving was a pare that went up on the doorway of a marae and people walked underneath it, he said.

‘’We’re the only ones when we carve we put our mountain on top of our head.’’

Since 2010 he has been an active member and supporter of the Kaumātua Kāunihera o Ngā Whare Taonga o Puke Ariki (Kaumātua Advisory Group), which advises the museum on Taranaki tikanga and kawa.

And he is a hapū kaitiaki and monitor of historic sites. He also advises on returned kōiwi tangata.

‘’A new Summerset Village is being built at Bell Block and about nine months ago I was doing monitoring there, and we found 19 rua pits and in two rua pits were two skulls.’’

He often walks along the beach near New Plymouth Airport, near the Puketapu, Trinder’s hapū pa site, and reburies bones of his tūpuna. They were buried in the sand, but as the cliff erodes their remains are falling on to the beach.

‘’I’ve done that job for the last 10 or 15 years. I do a karakia and put them back up where it is not going to fall back onto the beach again.’’

If he doesn’t get there within a day or two of the bones falling, someone else will find them and hand them into the police, who then contacted him, he said.

‘’Or they’ll get washed out to sea.’’

Trinder is also being recognised for his service to the community as volunteer caterer for the Taranaki Land Search and Rescue and his long involvement with rugby league.

His time volunteering spans 40 years, while he also worked at the freezing works in Waitara and was with the territorials, which included tours of duty to Bougainville and East Timor.

‘’I don’t know how I fitted it all in,’’ he joked.

Article by Helen Harvey, Taranaki Daily News

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