|te Runanganui o te Atiawa ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc.
(From the Hutt News, 12th September 2005)
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’.