New wharekai calling her people home

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The opening of Te Poho o Hine i Tuhia, a new wharekai at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae in Turanga, brings the 88-year-old marae facilities into the 21st century. Charlotte Gibson, Chairman of Te Poho o Rawiri Marae, says the upgrade opens new pathways for the future.

“There are only a few who maintain the oratory responsibilities, who cater to the guests and fulfil those roles such as cleaning the abolition block. The prayer is for the descendants to return to this house”, says Charlotte Gibson.

The upgrades include a new ablution block and a new wharekai which can cater up to 1000 people.

“My cousins like it, because we're all marae people, we grew up on marae from that era as children until death we work on the marae”, says Charlotte Gibson.

Temple Isaacs says, “Amazing, we've been anticipating this special development for a long time and now we rejoice”.

Tamati Tangohau Gibson is a kaiwero (cultural scout) and kitchen hand. He says, “We the descendants of this marae have been waiting for a long time, now our ancestor, this chiefly woman Hine i Tuhia o Te Rangi has awoken”.

The $3.4m marae restoration project Te Pā Eke Tū is the biggest project to date and is now in its third year.

 “If a new building is built the idea is that it is filled with people, regardless of how beautiful it is or how much it cost, that's not what it's about, the main thing it bringing everyone together”, says Charlotte Gibson.

With increased capacity and potential, the next generation has their eyes set on the horizon.

“Taking tourists up the mountain and telling them some of the histories, welcoming them here and conducting cultural performances, that's what lies ahead”, says Tamati Tangohau Gibson.

With carvings being refreshed at Toihoukura, the ancestral meeting house Te Poho o Rawiri will be officially re-opened at a later date in 2019.