Ōwae Marae's state-of-the-art wharekai rebuild nears its end

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Photo / Stuff

Ko Tamawahine, the historic wharekai of Owae Marae in Waitara that has stood for more than 100 years, will see its $4 million rebuild completed in the next two months.

The wharekai, built in 1881, has provided hospitality to prime ministers and the Kīngitanga, as well as its own people. 

Scheduled to be finished by mid-March, the newly revamped wharekai will be able to seat 200 people and users, with a full commercial kitchen and chiller, ablution facilities and storage space.

During deconstruction, elements of the old build were saved to be incorporated into the new building, such as the timber floorboards being used for wall panels. 

The aim wasn't just to future-proof the building but also to make sure it would provide comfort and hospitality for manuhiri and kaimahi, Manukorihi Pā Reserve trustee Ānaru White says.

“Our vision has to be intergenerational,” he says.

The restoration of two other whare, Te Whai-tara-nui-a-Ngarue and Tama Tane, made possible by the government's shovel-ready fund, was the first step in the tiered redevelopment of Owae Marae.

The whakairo/carvings will be renovated together, with a new roof for Te Ikaroa-a-Maui, in the upcoming phase of the marae upgrade.

A day-long celebration is being planned to mark the re-opening of the revamped wharekai officially.

Additional reporting by Stuff.