Church revamped as painters learn craft

By Sophie Ryan

The historic church by the urupa at Pehiaweri Marae, Glenbervie, is being given a new lease of life by a team of students and their tutor.

James Whittaker's level 2 painting students from NorthTec are giving back to the Whangarei community by completely revamping the whare karakia (church), at the marae as part of their course.

The whare karakia is almost 130 years old, and has been undergoing development and refurbishment since 1980.

"The students are feeling pretty happy about what they're doing, it's something that is going to be around for a long time and really appreciated," Mr Whittaker said.

This is the first painting course run by NorthTec and the first in Northland.

Mr Whittaker has a lot of experience in the industry and said he is enjoying teaching so much he wished he has been taking the course for years.

The interior of the church has been sanded down and is now being varnished.

The exterior will be done later in the year.

Mr Whittaker expects the work on the whare karakia to be complete in July 2014.

Andrew Brown, 20, is enjoying working on the project with his 12 classmates.

"It's pretty fun, we are learning heaps. [The marae community] told us they're grateful for what we're doing and they just let us do our thing," he said.

Said Mr Whittaker: "It is good for our students to be involved in projects like this and to know they are putting something back into the community while at the same time learning a skill and trade as a career option."

NorthTec has been working with the Pehiaweri Marae community now for nearly two-and-a-half years to build, enhance, and restore a number of facilities on the site.

John Cooper at ProScaf supplied the scaffolding free of charge for the project.


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