South Island community centre reopens after much-needed renovations

By Mare Haimona-Riki

After being closed for over a year, Te Puna Wānaka in Christchurch has reopened to the community and hāpu of Ngāi Tahu. The building is part of Ara, one of the country’s largest tertiary institutions.

Ara Māori development executive director Marino Lenihan says the building has been a hub for Māori, Pacific and indigenous studies in the South Island for 25 years, and the building is of great importance to the Ngāi Māori in the South Island.

“Te Puna Wānaka is our centre for kaupapa and mātauranga Māori.

“It’s a facility that was fought for by the Māori community of Christchurch in the 1990s.”

The building had been out of commission since April 2020 while it underwent a significant refurbishment, which included earthquake repairs and an upgrade of the building’s technology.

The improved layout includes a dedicated performance area and a new audio system so large events can be hosted.

“We’ve taken away concrete walls, and we’ve put in glass walls, and we’ve done quite a bit of surgery to help connect people to make those who visit us feel more connected to the hau kāinga,” Lenihan says.

“Te Puna Wānaka is our centre for kaupapa and mātauranga Māori.

 “It’s not a Marae but it’s like a Marae, here in the city where our language and culture can be what it needs to be and grow.”