Golden Bay's multicultural marae

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 5 March 2017
Onetahua Marae in Pohara, Golden Bay.

Onetahua Marae in Pohara, Golden Bay. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Glynn Rogers and Lauralee Duff take Te Ahi Kaa on a tour of Onetahua Marae in the small community of Pohara, Golden Bay.

The land and building was on the site of Tarakohe School, but by 1985 the school had closed down. During this period Te Waikoropupu Māori Committee were granted access to the site to use for the community.

Today, a sure sign of its former glory is the functional swimming pool in the backyard.

Onetahua which means ‘heaped up sand’ was opened in the mid-1980s and the original Marae Trustees were from various iwi around the country.

Glynn Rogers and Laurelee Duff, Pohara 2011.

Glynn Rogers and Laurelee Duff, Pohara 2011. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

One of the main employers in the town was Golden Bay Cement Works and when it closed in 1988 it put many whanau out of work. Months later the marae committee set up a range of Access courses that included advanced building, hydroponics, landscaping, tourism and Te Reo me ōna Tikanga.

In fact one of the cement works buildings was eventually used to run training courses.

Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa are mana whenua iwi to the area.

In 2001 the wharenui Te Ao Marama was opened and other local marae in Te Tau Ihu a Te Waka a Maui (the top of the South Island) supported the occasion.

The main carver of the pou inside Te Ao Marama was John Mutu who also carved Te Āwhina Marae in Motueka.

Today the marae is financed through koha (monetary donations) and is used by schools, family groups and community organisations.