Arahura - Feature

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

For nearly 150 years South Island hapū Ngāti Waewae haven't had their own meeting house, now they do.

According to Fayne Robinson, “We haven't had a house here for 150 year, it's the same down in Makaawhio, so what did we have to copy, what did we have to follow.”

The original whare tipuna was pulled down before World War 2, now 6 generations later they have a place of their own.

Tina Henderson says, “I’m just thrilled at the opening of our new meeting house, it was awesome, it was quite emotional. I started to cry, and the tears were flowing.”

Created and Carved by Fayne Robinson, he says it was difficult to build the Mārae with no examples to go by however the completion of the mārae finally came to fruition with some detailed additions along the way.

“So along the way we created some new patterns that represents some of the historical accounts that have been captured on the whare itself, says Mr Robinson.”

While Ngāti Waewae have been trying to maintain and protect their language and tikanga, the integrity and sacredness of the pounamu is something they also try to keep.

Jymal Morgan of Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu says, “In the days of old before the Pākeha came here, the people of Ngāi Tahu took care of the Pounamu, now the Pākeha have taken over everything and now since we have settled our claims.”

For many years poachers have been taking pounamu from rivers and selling it on the black market.

Ngāi Tahu have now created a barcoding system that tracks every piece of pounamu they receive, they can then tell you where it's from, the story behind the carving and the person who carved it.

With the new meeting house and protection of pounamu in place, a brighter future is in sight for the Iwi.