Flanders to Rome

Nicola Sciascia
Family Pilgrimage 2007

Frank Sciascia

01-10-1896 to 29-11-1975

Frank, son of Nicola Sciascia and Riria McGregor was brought up by his mother and Uncle Hokowhitu and was educated at the Koputaroa and Porangahau primary schools. At the age of 13 he took part in the building of the meeting house Te Poho o kahungunu at Porangahau. At age 15 went to work for his brother in law Hoani Macdonald at Blenheim for 2 years and then returned to Koputaroa flax cutting. He married Doris Atareta Hokianga of the Ngati Kere and Pihere tribes, a great granddaughter of Major Kupa and direct descendent of Te Atuki. He then worked as a ploughman for Frank Donnelly Waipukarau, worked at shearing in the summer and did every job in the flax mills of Dalziel, Porter, Pascall, Seifert; a German company which had the largest flax mill in New Zealand a couple of kilometres north of Shannon. From 1920 he began contract work which he did till he retired.

He also ran a quarry for many years, and contract metalled for the main road to Masterton. Of interest, during the slump years, he couldn’t go on the dole, because he had $40 in the bank, and crutched sheep for 70c per 100, and shore for $1.80 per 100. He worked for 1 month after the Napier earthquake for nothing, locating and burying the dead, and cleaning up work. During the war years in which his two sons Charles and Les served overseas, he was chairman of the Porangahau Maori War Effort committee for 5 years, and has also been chairman of the school committee and Pastorate committee. One of the most interesting committees he served on was the Te Aute College Centenary of 1951 during which they catered for 5000.

Very wiry and active at 75 years of age, he still drove around at a MPH for every year of his life, and was been instigator of the McGregor family reunion held at the Foxton racecourse on Easter 1972

Most 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

Frank and his sons became were well known covering a wide spread of interests. Racing heading the list . His son Charles returned from the 2nd WW without his legs so the arrival at any race track through out the North Island would see his car (and usually his followers ) parked in the prime spot. If you were lucky enough to be allowed to travel to or from the race meeting with them you would be able to recount race for race the pro's and con's of horses, riders or trainers. The fact that the Leading Trainer of the time was his nephew Eric Ropiha was very proudly owned. And many a door was opened from this fact.

Frank also had that natural authority that comes with Leadership so his word was seldom questioned and instructions quickly carried out. His role on the Porangahau Marae was that of a speaker and he Chaired the committee's that looked after the Marae and the people. His interest in the welfare of the Community was well respected. He was always mindful that although he had an ahi kaa status (keeping the home fires burning) his tribal affiliation was Ngati Raukawa / Ngati Koata.

Frank is credited with keeping the Porangahau Anglican Church going over a number of years. His dedication to the church and the Pastorate was a strong commitment. His advice was sought by many different organisations through out Ngati Kahungunu. At the time of his death, he with his Grandson Piri Sciascia had been asked to attend a hui on the Takitimu Marae in Wairoa to discuss the Lighthouse from Portland Island. He had just spoken giving his opinion and handed the rakau to Piri when he had a massive heart attack. The Light house now stands on the bank of the Wairoa river at the bridge in the main street.

He was born on Portland Island and died looking after the Light house and its future.


The following has been provided by Alan Sciascia

I remember when Karen and I were married in Levin in 74. Uncle Frank came to the wedding and I guess we had about 80+ guests for the wedding breakfast in the Levin East school hall. Everyone was having a great time and the beer was flowing (as too was the wine).

Then time came for speeches and it seemed to carry on for quite some time. My Dad got up to speak and to get everyone's attention he grabbed a beer bottle and tapped it repeatedly with the handle of his dinner knife. Of course everyone turned towards Dad only to see the beer frothing out the top of the bottle like a fountain. He sure got their attention then.

Anyway, Dad spoke for a bit then introduced Uncle Frank. He slowly rose and stood quietly. The crowd hushed and he began to speak. He spoke for quite some time in Maori and though most everyone there couldn't understand his words he certainly commanded their attention and respect.

A fine man indeed

This photo taken at Portland Island, the burial place of Nicola Sciascia


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