Great Barrier Island elders eagerly await completion of Kawa Marae - Feature

By Dean Nathan

Elders of Ngāti Rehua and Ngāti Wai of Great Barrier Island have long aspired to have a carved meeting house on their island. 

That aspiration came a lot closer to fruition this week when ancestral carvings arrived by boat to their island.

“This is a very important event for Māori on this island, said to be the most significant of the islands in the region of Ngāti Wai”, says Mairehau Cleave.

With the island's series of serious flooding affecting the senior marae at Motairehe this year meant Ngāti Rehua elders have decided to open Kawa Marae earlier than originally planned.

Ms Cleave says, “It’s the first time I can recall carvings of our ancestors being brought onto the island and they will play an important role in bringing together Māori and Pākehā.”

This weekend, the wharekai on Kawa Marae will be opened, and on November 22, the early morning ceremony will take place to open the ancestral house.

According to Te Warahi Hetaraka, “Once this house is opened, it will be used as a house of learning the genealogies that connect the various tribes and learning the histories and legends of this island and across the wider territory of Ngāti Wai.”

Elders on Great Barrier Island have waited generations to have a carved house and a house of learning, now that dream is a step closer to completion.