The Opening of Te Maori
te Runanganui o te Atiawa ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc.

    Te Maori’ cultural centre echoes history, elders’ vision
    (From the Hutt News, 12th September 2005)

    For local Maori, 10 September is fast becoming a memorial date.
    It was on 10 September 45 years ago that the Prime Minister Walter Nash opened Waiwhetu
    Marae. That same day in 1991, the Te Aroha sports complex that now houses Te Atiawa’s
    health services was opened.
    And now, 10 September, 2005 will be remembered as the day the marae’s new cultural
    centre was opened by Prime Minster Helen Clark.
    Hundreds of people turned out in brilliant weather for both the dawn blessing and the mid-
    morning ceremonies. The striking looking building designed by Louise Ryan of Athfeild
    Architects and featuring sidewall concrete panels with slanted relief  to resemble traditional
    tukutuku panels - is the new home for the huge waka Te Aniwaniwa that Rangi Hetet carved
    for the 1990 commemoration of the  150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of
    Waitangi. Sitting across from Te Whiti Park and less than 100m north of the marae, the $1.5
    million centre will also be the home to the Atiawa Toa FM radio station, Te Runanga o
    Awakairangi’s offices, an internet suite and galleries for art exhibitions and other events. Hutt
    City Council gave a grant of $200,000 but the rest of the cost was picked up by the Waiwhetu
    Marae Trust, elder Kara Puketapu says.
    Helen Clark said the name of the Marae – Aroha ki te Tangata (‘Goodwill to All) neatly sums
    up the way the people of Waiwhetu have approached the world around them, “opening the
    door to all. This beautiful cultural centre is going to make an amazing contribution to the
    quality of life of the people here, and for the whole Hutt Valley.”
    The prime minister noted that the idea of the marae itself goes right back to the very
    beginning of last century, with Maori who settled here decades before the state houses and
    the growth of Lower Hutt into a city.”
    “I think what we’re seeing today is another step on the way to the realisation of their vision of
    what is possible.”
    “Te Atiawa have established a fitness centre, radio station, health services and arts &
    craft/tourism venue and other services around the marae. What is happening here at
    Waiwhetu to my mind symbolises the regeneration and renaissance of Maoridom we’re
    seeing right across New Zealand - economic development, social development, pride in
    culture,” Helen Clark said. “It’s a nationwide phenomenon.”
    Best of all “it’s a place where all people can feel welcome and isn’t that the kind of New
    Zealand we want? Respecting each one of us and the contribution we can make, respecting
    Maori as the first people in this area and across New Zealand, and looking for a future
    together where we draw on everyone’s potential.” Echoing her sentiment that the cultural
    centre was for all races, Kara Puketapu’s response to the Prime Minister was: “Thankyou for
    bringing New Zealand to us today.”
    The new building is named ‘Te Maori’. Mr Puketapu explains the idea for the landmark
    exhibition of Maori art that toured four major cities in North America in the mid-1980s was
    conceived at Waiwhetu. As then the secretary of Maori Affairs, Mr Puketapu was involved in
    persuading families, tribes and museums around New Zealand to lend 165 of their most
    treasured taonga/art treasures for the exhibition that would showcase Maori culture to the
    world. The building’s name recalls not only that momentous time but the faith of those elders
    of the day – many of whom who have passed away – that those taonga would be returned
    after giving people in places like New York, Chicago and San Francisco a glimpse of the
    Maori cultural and spiritual traditions.
    Another special aspect of Sunday’s ceremony was the baptism by the Maori bishop of two Te
    Kapua o te Rangi Puketapu-Deys-Wichman – Kara’s great grandson and symbolising a new
    birth and future ‘like fern fronds unfolding’.
te Runanganui o te Atiawa