Waitahanui opens new $2mil marae on Taupō lakefront

By Mānia Clarke

Taupō's lakeside Waitahanui marae has opened its new ancestral house and dining hall. The occasion also coincides with the marae's 100th-anniversary celebrations.

It's a celebration for the locals and followers of the Rātana faith whose dream to restore their marae has come to fruition.

Marae spokesperson Hawera Karaitiana says, “The important thing for us of Pākira, is that our visitors are honoured. A saying of our elders that we uphold is "Our tribe of Tūtemohuta is abundant in food and hospitality.”

The new ancestral house has retained its name, Pākira, as has the new dining hall called Hinearo, which can now seat 280 people.

Organiser Ngātoru Wall says, “The wharekai (dining hall) came down, the wharepuni (sleeping house) came down. The carvings, we restored them our own men from the marae, touched them up. And the wharemoe (sleeping house) we got uplifted and moved to the property just behind us.”

“We've got tukutuku that were done by the whanau. We've got poupou that was created by our young boys and our men. The old whetū marama and the temepara was in our wharepuni, we've put that back in. And we got one of master carvers, Mark Kahu, who carved us the poupou, the poutokomanawa (main post), Tūtemohuta.”

Earlier in May, the marae celebrated it's centenary. The $2mil renovations began a year ago.

New Labour MP Tamati Coffey says, “This is an example of how when you can breathe some life into it. You can create a place where the young ones will want to come back to, but create memories along the way.”

Karaitiana says, “We want our marae to be a central hub, not only for funerals and unveilings but for us descendants of Pākira to meet and discuss tribal matters, to learn our language and uphold the customs and practises of our marae."

Plans are underway to renovate the neighbouring Tutetawha marae.