Te Mahurehure Marae celebrates 50 years - A lifetime dream for Nan

By Taroi Black

Auckland's Te Mahurehure Marae celebrated 50 years since first opening their doors to Ngāpuhi descendants living away from home. For one kuia, it has been a labour of love and a life-long commitment welcoming the thousands of visitors to the big smoke.

Te Mahurehure Marae chairperson Christine Panapa says, "Everybody has worked so hard for the marae and then to see it come to fruition like for 50 years is huge."

Panapa is an integral figure at the marae, leading the upgrade of its facilities for future generations of Ngāpuhi descendants.  

"I look at these ones and see the mahi that they've been doing yesterday and toiling out there hard. And then I see them here with me and I hope I can be here forever and ever with them," Panapa says. 

"This marae is a hub for families living in Auckland. The trust was set up in order to unite our families here in Auckland and big thanks go out to Aunty Christine," marae member Te Hira Paenga says. 

For life members, it is a day of celebration for a marae which became a beacon of hope for Māori living away from home.  

Kaumātua Patu Hohepa says, "It’s very emotional for me because so many have passed on, many of our elders and iconic women figures such as Whina Cooper."

In the beginning, some families helped save 10% of their wages to ensure they had a marae. The name given to it 50 years ago was chosen to help reconnect them to their homes.  

"The name derives from our ancestor who resided on the south end of Hokianga. This place is appropriate for the descendants of Kupe and the Ngā Toki Matawhaorua waka," General Wihongi says. 

The celebrations included dignitaries and members of parliament, such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"Mahurehure Marae has a real history in this community and to come and acknowledge everyone who has contributed to its regeneration over the years, and just as a focal point for the community, is really important," Ardern says. 

However, for Panapa it is about marae legacy, as her mother once said.

"She used to always say, 'Christine they are never going to remember you for the beautiful dress you wore but they will remember you for the kai that you provide."