All iwi urged to get insurance for their marae in case of disaster

By Jessica Tyson

All iwi are being urged to get insurance for the different marae in their region in case of a disaster which could leave them in financial burden.

It comes after an urban marae in Wellington, Tapu Te Ranga, was destroyed by fire earlier this year. Around $5 million is needed for the rebuild, which could have been avoided if the marae had insurance.

To qualify for insurance, the marae needed a sprinkler system which would have cost $1 million for its installation.  

Dean Stewart of Tapu Te Ranga says, “We are a prime example when it comes to insurance of not what to do...We just didn't have the money. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. We won't make that mistake again."

Tapu Te Ranga was built in 1974 by Bruce Stewart. It was 11 stories high and became a refuge for many Māori.

Stewart's sister, Pare Sannyasi, says the family still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of their marae.

"We're still trying to go through the motions…If felt like just a tangi."

The solution

The process of getting insurance for marae can be difficult since marae house valuable taonga, such as photographs, carvings and other precious cultural items.

To protect more than 30 marae in the Tainui region, Tainui Group Holdings has worked alongside insurance brokers Willis Towers Watson to create a collective insurance scheme.

Account director of Willis Towers Watson, Vedi Angjelinovic, says the process they adopted to evaluate taonga value has been by using a professional valuer, while also forming an agreement with whānau at the marae.

"This puts a value on the individual taonga and other marae assets. For taonga and items of cultural significance, we achieved a special agreement around the basis of settlement where each individual marae has control around how the claim is settled. A reasonable agreement between the insurer and the marae has been formed."

He recommends that iwi use their collective buying power to bring insurance companies to the table.

"If you have a collective approach, and you’re a part of 20 to 40 marae in an iwi, getting together and agreeing with your board of trustees about setting up a scheme to cover your assets and liabilities has significant positives. These are around not only cost benefits for marae and the iwi, but also guaranteed insurability and better cover."

For Tapu Te Ranga marae, Stewart says the Wellington community will be looking at ways to fund $5 million for the rebuild by applying for grants and setting up a Givealittle page.

“I think if you love your marae, you need to put some time, money and energy into saving it from whatever your disaster potentially could be."

For more on this story watch Te Ao with Moana at 8pm on Tuesday on Māori Television.

Photo source: Fire and Emergency.