Nga Marae o te Motu

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 12 March 2017

This week Te Ahi Kaa visits two South Island marae - Omaka Marae in Marlborough and Rehua Marae in Christchurch. (These interviews are from the archives)

Omaka Marae - Aerodrome Road, Blenheim

Te Aroha o Te Waipounamu Whare Tipuna, Omaka Marae.

Te Aroha o Te Waipounamu Whare Tipuna, Omaka Marae. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

The driving force behind the establishment of Omaka Marae in Marlborough was so its Māori community could carry out tangihanga (Māori funeral rite) in accordance with tikanga.

It was the 1960s, and as more Māori drifted from their rural homelands to cities the local Kaumatua became acutely aware of the need to establish a marae in the area due to tangihanga carried out in homes and the logistical nightmare this presented.

The Marlborough Māori Community group was formed to look into alternative buildings where they could hold tangihanga.

Not long after the group began investigating the feasibility of a marae.

The site of Omaka Marae was largely barren, nearby is the Omaka Air Field and the former air force barracks are metres away from the meeting house.

A few minutes drive from the marae is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre where film director Sir Peter Jackson houses his collection of WWI aircraft and artefacts.

Today Omaka boasts six buildings on-site there are kaumatua cottages, and there is a lounge area dubbed the blue room.

When Te Ahi Kaa visited Omaka Marae in 2010, Kiley Nepia had come home to give back to his whanau, iwi and hapū by seeing to the marae’s day to day operations.

Inside the meeting house Te Aroha o Te Waipounamu artist by Brian Baxter painted large murals on the walls depicting the region’s colonial history.

The murals were painted by artist Brian Baxter.

The murals were painted by artist Brian Baxter. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Inside the Whare Tupuna Te Aroha o Te Waipounamu, Omaka Marae.

Inside the Whare Tupuna Te Aroha o Te Waipounamu, Omaka Marae. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray


Rehua Marae - Springfield Street, Christchurch

Before it was transformed into a marae, Rehua was formerly the Rehua Māori Apprentices Hostel.

It was home to young boys and girls who attended the Māori Trade Training Schemes set up by members of the Weslyan Church (Haahi Wēteriana) and Ngai Tahu. The hostel provided cheap accommodation and a sense of family for the young adults who had moved away from their homes, many from the North Island.

The camaraderie of the trainees led to playing rugby matches, hosting concert parties and raising their profile in the community.  In 1952 Rehua moved to its present day site in Central Christchurch, three years later discussion were underway about building a meeting house.

Te Whatu Manawa Māoritanga o Rehua was opened in 1960 attended by the late Dame Te Ataairangi Kaahu.

The dining hall was opened in 1977, and adjacent Kaumatua flats were opened in 1987.

Dr Terry Ryan says the name Rehua was given by Henare Te Ara Jacobs.

Dr Terry Ryan says the name Rehua was given by Henare Te Ara Jacobs. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Whakapapa exponent Dr Terry Ryan explains to Te Ahi Kaa the history of the marae and those people who played an integral role.