Flanders to Rome

Nicola Sciascia
Family Pilgrimage 2007

Erena Ruta Sciascia

02-12-1892 to 12-06-1952

Ellen and her sister Emma were both born at Pencarrow lighthouse where their father Nicola Sciascia was a lighthouse keeper. They then moved to Kawhia and thence to Portland Island, Mahia Peninsula, where their father was killed by a bull.
Ellen was then brought up by Hohepa Williams at Pipiriki Wanganui until she was 14, when she returned to Foxton and later married Ieni, son of Renata Te Rahui Ropiha and Mahaarata Renata of Foxton. They lived firstly at Motuiti Foxton and then built a family home at Koputaroa which they eventually sold to Jack Sciascia. They moved to Porangahau about 1915 where they milked cows, ran a cream and bus service to Waipukarau.

They moved back to Levin about 1936 and again took up milking cows and farming, which they did until their respective deaths. Ellen was interested in Anglican Church work, and took part in Womens Guild and Maori tribal committee work.

Above text has been taken from the reunion books of 1972 and 1987. However some changes have been made due to recent research identifying some minor errors in previously published text.


The following has been provided by Marina Sciascia

Ellen was a very young girl when she married Ieni Tetakau Tapiana Ropiha ( in her seventeenth year) Of her sixteen children her first and last children were the only ones born in Ngati Raukawa. The rest at were born at Eparima (Wanstead) and Porangahau.

Their move to Porangahau was to support Ieni's cousins as a speaker for the Ropiha family. He was also the Karakia person and took service at their homes. A favourite account spoken about is of the time over the food gathering season at Blackhead. Uncle Kawe (as he was known ) would recite the appropriate karakia before the fishermen went to harvest. Also how the whole family including the wider families would move there during this period, staying there for some weeks and not returning until all the containers were full. Then there would be the dropping off around the village and Pa on the way home. The preserving and drying was carried out by the woman. Ellen was renown for cooking skills, filling the house with great aroma and tasty morsels for the many young children that grew up under her wing. Both at Porangahau and at 35 Union Street in Foxton. As was the way of that time, the older daughters left their children to be cared for by their Mother while they went away to work.

Uncle Kawe was afflicted with gout which left Ellen to carry out much of the labouring work that was required to farm their land. This she did in a very vocal way and if you were helping one quickly learnt to do the job well and quickly. She was known to have firm opinions on most things and was remembered for her contribution to conversations. She also instilled a great pride in her daughters towards their personal care and dress. She loved fine things and had a care of glass and ornaments of the time. Some of those taonga are handed on today.

Many a Sunday dinner was shared between the families as a Sunday ritual. From church to one another's homes. We are never sure if this is a great Italian tradition carried on or a Maori one

Alan Sciascia © 2007 HomeCharlesTravel NewsItineraryParticipantsPhotosContactsWhakapapa

Nicola's and Riria's portrait images kindly scanned and edited by Diane Taylor
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