Meeting house milestone to be celebrated

By Laurel Stowell

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Maranganui, the meeting house at Pungarehu Marae, was renovated in the 1980s.
Maranganui, the meeting house at Pungarehu Marae, was renovated in the 1980s.

People of the Whanganui River's Pungarehu Marae celebrate 100 years of their meeting house next month.

Marae committee chairman Ken Mair said as many as 150 of their people are likely to arrive from all over New Zealand for the celebration on November 9.

The programme begins with a powhiri and a look at the centennial plaque made for Maranganui, the marae's wharetupuna (meeting house).

After that, the repaired headstones of leader Te Ratana Te Urumingi and his wife Heeni will be unveiled. A feast and kapa haka entertainment will follow. After an evening meal the tribal descendants move into a whakawhanaungatanga session - "where we discuss and learn more about our marae and who we are, and discuss events of the day and what's happening within the iwi".

One important matter they'll be talking about is their Te Urumingi Whanau Trust housing project. In 2009, it built one house at the marae, using blocks made of a cement/pumice mixture.

More houses and some kaumatua flats are planned.

The Maranganui meeting house was moved to its present position in the early 1900s, Mr Mair said. It was renovated by kaumatua and families in the 1980s and rededicated by then Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves in 1986.

Its people have chosen to celebrate this year because Te Urumingi died in July 1913, 100 years ago. He, alongside Hori Pukehika, was instrumental in building and carving Maranganui.

Pungarehu Marae was also known as a place where ta moko (traditional Maori tattoo art) was practised.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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