Opening Date Set For Symbol of Ngati Awa Unity

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The final act in a 130 year journey will be completed in September 2011 when the much-travelled Mataatua Wharenui is re-opened in Whakatane.

Te Runanga o Ngati Awa recently confirmed Saturday September 17 as the official opening date for the carved Maori meeting house which was originally opened in Whakatane in 1875. Mataatua Wharenui is the focal point of the Te Manuka Tutahi Marae complex, currently being constructed on Muriwai Drive.

After only five years of its original opening, Mataatua was disassembled by the New Zealand Government, packed into crates and sent to Sydney for the 1879 British Empire Exhibition. So began a series of journeys that would see the house taken to Melbourne, London and Dunedin.

Te Runanga o Ngati Awa Chief Executive Jeremy Gardiner says the house was originally constructed to unite and reinspire the hapu of Ngati Awa, who were reeling from the effects of the raupatu (land confisactions), and the purpose of unifying and signalling renewed development is still the case today.

One of the main reasons Mataatua Wharenui was built was to unite and bring hope to Ngati Awa at a particularly dark time in our history. 130 years later, this is still very much the case. Mataatua Wharenui is a symbol of Ngati Awa unity and resilience – a place where, together, we can celebrate our history, our present and our future

Mr Gardiner says this sense of unity is intrinsic to the wharenui in that all members of Ngati Awa can trace their ancestry to at least one of ancestors represented in the houses carvings.

The carvings in the wharenui represent some of our most prominent ancestors and, in fact, well known ancestors across the country. All of Ngati Awa will have a geneaological connection to at least one of these ancestors.

The complex is also expected to bring significant benefits to the local Whakatane community as a medium to large conference and events venue.

The wharenui can accommodate meetings and conferences of up to 200 seated while the wharekai (dining room) can seat up to 150 restaurant-style. A conference venue with such an inherent cultural significance is certainly a point of difference and one that could be quite attractive to local, national and even international audiences

The complex will also boast a world-class visitor experience centred around the fascinating story of Mataatua Wharenui.

For further information, contact:

William Stewart Mauriora Marketing & PR
Mobile: 021 220 8015
Mauriora_marketing@xtra.co.nz

1 COMMENT

  1. I am a principal of a remote rural school.I am bringing my school to Wakatane to study local Maori history.Are we able to be shown around Te Manuka Tutahi?

    Regards.
    Rob Jones
    Principal
    Ohuka School

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