18 Dec 2012

Cultural Centre designed with the future in mind

6:41 am on 18 December 2012

A Rangitane leader says a new cultural centre in Blenheim was purposely built with the future in mind and as a place their young people can connect with.

The Marlborough iwi recently opened the new Rangitane o Wairau Cultural Centre, which will be used as the tribe's hub to host cultural events and showcase their artwork.

The modern facility, which is similar in design to Wellington's Wharewaka, cost $1.8 million. It was funded by Treaty settlement money.

Rangitane o Wairau chair Judith MacDonald said they did not want to build a traditional marae - they wanted a contemporary setting where their rangatahi can feel comfortable.

She said young people often feel too restricted in a traditional marae environment because they are bound by tikanga, or protocols, that forbid them from doing certain things.

Ms MacDonald said that as the tribal leadership grows and succession plans are put in place, it is important that the tribe gets buy-in from rangatahi and that they have a sense of ownership in their Rangitane identity.

She said the contemporary design means that the cultural centre can also be used by the whole community in Marlborough - Maori and non-Maori alike - to host events.