Whānau of marae destroyed by fire determined to rebuild

By Te Ao with MOANA

Whānau from an urban marae in Wellington, which was destroyed by fire in June, are determined to rebuild despite the marae not having insurance.

Dean Stewart, who helped build Tapu Te Ranga in the 70s, says they need to raise around $5 million to rebuild.

“I’m hoping to get this within five to seven years. People think I’m very ambitious, I’m determined to push this as hard as I can.”

The modern eleven story marae was a refuge to many displaced Māori living in Wellington. It was built by Dean’s father, Bruce Stewart, who had a vision for the marae while serving time in prison in the 70s.

Bruce’s daughter Pare Sannyasi says it is painful that her father’s legacy was destroyed.

“My Dad’s vision for Tapu Te Ranga was a place where Māori who were displaced in Wellington city could call home. It was just a tūrangawaewae for those who, for whatever reason, felt that they didn’t have one,” she says.

The marae was frequently used by many iwi as well, who travelled to Wellington for various occasions, including visits to parliament or tending to sick whānau. When it went up in flames just four months ago, it devastated the community.

“It felt just like a tangi, in the days after the fire. I think Māori, especially, would know what that feels like,” Sannyasi says.

Despite not having insurance, Stewart says the community will be looking at ways to fund the marae rebuild, including applying for grants and setting up a Givealittle page.

 “We’ve got a lot of council support. We’ve got a lot of political support. We’ve got a lot of other marae giving support. They want to see it up.”

Article by Aroha Awarau for Te Ao with Moana.


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