Murihiku Marae gets giant funding boost

By Taroi Black

A Southland marae will get the biggest marae funding grant of $9 million so far to upgrade its complex.

The money is from the $3 billion set aside in the government's Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which comes as good news for whanau of Murihiku Marae, which has had a project in the works for seven years. 

Rūnaka Chair Cyril Gilroy says the project will ensure Murihiku Marae is fit for purpose and able to carry the rūnaka into the future.

“This will be all the things a pā was, but in a modern context – fluid and adaptive to meet the needs of our community in this post-Covid-19 world. The new mix of facilities will be suitable for a range of hui, social services, community and business activities, and will provide improved functionality of the marae as a civil defence community hub.”

Now the Waihopai rūnaka aims to design the state-of-the-art facility, bringing in specialist marae architects BOON. Despite the Wharenui Te Raitauneke not needing much work, other buildings in the complex will be replaced, ensuring that they are fit for purpose and that they reflect the history of the mana whenua. 

Included in the scope of the design is a new wharekai, the replacement of a substandard administration and services hub, internal roading, parking and other infrastructure and landscaping, plus the phased completion of onsite accommodation for kaumātua.

“This project expands on the Waihōpai and Murihiku Marae indigenous footprint, providing Murihiku whānau a standing place fit for the future. It strengthens intergenerational connections by acknowledging the whakapapa of our tūpuna, and works in alignment with the whenua with a strong whānau and environmental consciousness,” Gilroy says.

“This is for our mokopuna and their mokopuna. It is about incorporating the past while our sights are set on the future, and we are realising our aspirations in the present. We are privileged to be a part of making our whānau moemoea a reality alongside our partners.”

Planning for the project has been going on for seven years. The total project cost is approximately $12.5 million with the government funding making up the majority of the funding, with a further $2.5 million from the Rūnaka and from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. A final $1 million is required, which will be sourced through other funding.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has supported this Rūnaka project with funding from its Ngāi Tahu Marae Development Fund.

Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says: “We are thrilled to support Waihōpai Rūnaka on this kaupapa. This is yet another example of how rūnanga are working to ensure future stability in our regions. Waihōpai has been working tirelessly to build a marae that reflects the vision it holds for Murihiku, and this moves it much closer to making that a reality.”

The Rūnaka aims to let the main construction contract in August, and for the new facilities to be open by the end of 2022. The construction phase will create 33 temporary jobs and there will be eight permanent jobs once the marae is completed.