Storm devastates Waiwaha wharekai in Rotorua

By Te Ao Māori News

Ngāti Pāruaharanui of Te Arawa are upset at the damage caused to their dining hall, Waiwaha, by the storm earlier this week. The iwi recently held a prayer service as they considered how to repair the damage.

The state of the marae was a heartbreaking sight for the descendants of Ngāti Pāruaharanui.

Marae member Te Wāta Cribb told Te Kāea, “We're very saddened. I think back to those who have passed on, those who built this meeting house. Even though we were only children at that time, they are still in memory.”

Project Manager Richard Hamana says, “Very mamae sobre. very sad, obviously it’s a tragedy that we didn't want and I think the whole of Ngāti Pikiao will be feeling it.”

The western corner of the dining hall roof and walls crumbled severely after a large tree fell on top of it during the storm that ripped through the country on Thursday and Friday. 

Cribb says, “This is a first. I've seen meeting houses flooded or damaged by earthquakes, but this is a situation we've never seen before.”

Hamana says, “What we're concentrating on at the moment is the health and safety of our whānau. The cordoning off of the work site, coz it is now a construction site.”

No one was injured in the event. The meeting house and ablution blocks also escaped damage, but a risk and damage assessment of the entire dining hall will be carried out to reveal the extent of the damage.

“Obviously there are hidden hazards or hidden damage that we can't see on the roof line. Hence the requirement of a structural engineer to come and have a look at it.”

“The cost of the damage is expected to be in the tens of thousands, leaving the hapū with more misery as the dining hall was not insured.”

That's a lesson learned for our committee and for all of us really to know that we must have insurance on our buildings.

“The committee hopes that the iwi can provide a donation to help with this situation.”

Te Waata believes that staying true to the protocols of our ancestors is paramount.

“Regardless of your ability in oratory, we as Māori know the most important thing is hospitality. That's one of the biggest protocols on the marae.”

The marae will be closed until further notice and marae members will meet soon.