Marlborough iwi opens new cultural centre in Blenheim

Updated at 12:03 am on 4 December 2012

The Marlborough iwi of Rangitane gathered to celebrate the opening of their cultural centre over the weekend, saying they see it as a symbol of moving forward after settling their Treaty claims.

The facility cost $1.8 million to design and build and was developed by Te Runanga o Rangitane o Wairau Trust as a meeting place and a showcase for Rangitane culture and art.

The contemporary-style building is made mainly of stained glass panels and timber and is similar in design to Wellington's Wharewaka.

Centre chairperson Judith MacDonald says the tribe deliberately chose a progressive design with a "wow factor" to symbolise the opportunities made possible by their Treaty settlements.

She says after hosting a number of significant events in the region this year including the Rangitane Festival, the Maori Womens' Welfare League hui and a major renovation project at Omaka Marae, the opening of the centre is the icing on the cake.

Ms MacDonald says when she spoke to her kaumatua about the plans he told her that the iwi needs to build a contemporary well-styled building, rather than a traditional marae type structure, so that when people drive past they would say "wow what progressive tribe owns that?".

Inside the carpet has a design of the Wairau River flowing into Cloudy Bay, and the windows are stained with the signatures of those who signed the Rangitane Treaty settlement.

The main hall area has the capacity for 200 people, with two meeting rooms, a modern kitchen, a bar, showers and toilets.

It was built on the site of the old Grovetown Hall.

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