Mokau Marae rises from its ashes to new life

By Taroi Black

Taitokerau whanau make their last push to save and restore their beloved Mokau Marae in a fundraising sport event. The marae was destroyed by fire in 2013, but the new year brings hope at its completion date is on the arrival of Matariki - the Maori new year.

Mokau Marae chair Clive Stone says, “Half a generation have missed out, our tikanga, our kawa associated with the marae.”

Other local marae based in Whangaruru, 45km out of Whangarei, such as Tūparehuia, Ngaiotonga, Punaruku, Oākura and Otetao Reti have shown their tautoko and aroha over the years to ensure their uri from Mokau are supported.

Since the destruction in 2013 their hapū Te Uri o Hikihiki have remained strong by delivering the best outcome in order to get their whānau involved in its recovery. 

Stone told Te Ao Maori News the annual sports tournament has been running since then, to give its uri a sense of belonging and a foundation for future generations.

“It’s tournaments like this that brings that whanaungatanga back that makes us strong again.”

The whakataetae includes basketball, netball and touch. But its purpose is to raise putea. Since the inaugural year, Mokau whānau have raised between $10k to 15k, as part of restoring their Marae back to its original status.

During the raumati season, whānau from across the motu, even as far as Perth, Australia, take part in the kaupapa.

Marae whanaunga Petina Stone says, “It’s taken us a few years to get here. I think this is our sixth year and it was devastating. It’s about losing a part of who we are.”

The rural community of Whangaruru were in mourning as Mokau Marae was up in flames in 2013. Whakairo and personal taonga to generations of Ngāti Wai iwi history were damaged or destroyed.

However, their hapu Te Uri o Hikihiki are in high spirits to complete the rebuild.

Clive Stone concludes: “It hasn’t been easy. A lot of people have passed away on our journey that have thrown their heart into this project.”