Dream becomes reality for Waiheke’s Piritahi Marae

By Harata Brown

The dream to adorn Waiheke Island's Piritahi Marae with traditional carvings and tukutuku panels has come to fruition. This morning, many gathered at the edge of Hurinui Bay, to witness the unveiling.

It has taken 15 years and many, many hands, for the carvings and tukutuku of Kia Piritahi to be out on display today. 

Sally Smith Head of Installation says, “I've been working on this mahi since I was 21, so I'm really stoked to see it completed today. I am really amazed to see what the whanau has brought to this.”

Carving Expert - Tomi Ropata says, "Many people from different iwi supported this project. Some students from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa supported the project, some who just off the street also played a role. That is the nature of how this all came about.

About 50 carvings now adorn the carved meeting house of Piritahi Marae, which has been a bastion for people from various tribes and nationalities. Work to carve and weave the tukutuku panels began in 2001.

Residents both local and from overseas helped prepare the carvings for today’s historic occasion.

Lorna Rikihana, Master Weaver says, “The tukutuku panels were completed in 2003 and they were held in storage for some time, in anticipation for the opening today.”

The unveiling was held in conjunction with the 40th anniversary from when the lease of the land was secured by the marae committee.

Piritahi Marae spokesperson Pita Mahaki says, “The people here on the island are from different nationalities and iwi, so it was our elders, as well as Kato (Kauwhata) who planted the seed to unite us all.”

Furthermore, the carved meeting house literally bears the thumbprints of the many people who worked together to achieve the dream.