Multi-million dollar restoration for Te Poho o Rawiri Marae

Te Poho o Rawiri Marae in Gisborne is undergoing a $3.4 million restoration project called Te Pa Eke Tu, its biggest project to date, which will bring the 88-year-old marae and its facilities into the 21st century. 

"This project is super significant it's probably the first of its kind in terms applying for the type of funding that we did, we went for the Significant Project Fund we're the first marae to ever receive the Significant Project Fund through the lotteries commission," says Renall Nikora, project manager.

A revamped wharenui, a new ablution block and a new state of the art wharekai, renovations that will mean it can cater up to 1000 people all at the one time.

First and foremost it's a hub for all our descendants not only for the tourists, the council and other outside visitors, the main thing is that this is a place where we can look after our own," says Charlotte Gibson, chairman of Te Poho o Rawiri Marae.

Inside is also undergoing a major overhaul with the tukutuku and carvings.

"There are 111 tukutuku panels in this whare there are 218 carvings, so we're cleaning them all, they first need a dry clean, then wet clean, some of them then have to come off the wall, we've taken about 20 percent of the tukutuku that are so damaged that we actually need to remove them to reweave them particularly the lashing which is hard to repair on the wall," says Elizabeth Kerekere, restoration lead.

The work needed to happen to help earthquake-proof and ensure that the original features are preserved for future generations.

"So it's also a little bit about what we're doing in terms of iwi development as well, so there's lots going on and there is more at stake than just our whare, we're growing our whare we're growing our people as well," says Nikora.

The majority of the work is expected to be completed before the end of this year.