After more than a year of preparations the centennial for Houngarea Marae is finally here.

The celebrations will take place this Wednesday - 100 years since the relocation to where the wharenui now stands - on the corner of Miriama and Old Main Rd in Pakipaki.

Event operations manager Tu Chapman said people had started to arrive from throughout the country, as well as overseas for the event.

The great, great granddaughter of Urupene Puhara who gifted the land, Tanira Te Au said Houngarea was initially located at Waikoko and was subsequently moved to Pakipaki in 1915. It was "fixed up" on March 16, 1916, and that was why the centennial fell on that day.


On Saturday morning an hour and a half hikoi was lead from Houngarea back to its original site starting a historical journey.

"Urupene has left a legacy for us," Ms Te Au said.

Tomorrow night a traditional service will be held for families who have lost whanau members to welcome their loved ones back on to the marae.

Ms Chapman said this service was often a sad one, but in many cases it would be the time for people who were unable to pay their respects to do so.

Part of the preparations for the centennial had been the restoration of 35 photographs which had been out of public view for more than 20 years.

The photographs which depict ancestors were now close to their original state and would be showcased on the day and re-hung in the wharenui.

Organising committee member Cilla Wilkins said the focus of the centennial would be the exhibitions and the speakers as well as Houngarea being the first stop for all returned servicemen from the Ikaroa-Rawhiti area following the end of World War II.

She said those who had returned would be acknowledged as well as those who remained on battlefields overseas.

"Houngarea Marae was deemed for all the people, so for all of New Zealand, instead of just the local iwi and hapu," she said.

The centennial will begin before the sun rises at 5am with a karanga to the dawn and a karakia and blessing of the wharenui. At 6.30am there will be a breakfast and 9am a powhiri, wero, karanga, haka powhiri, a whaikorereo, and an unveiling of the centennial bell as well as the release of 100 balloons.

At 10am there will be entertainment and exhibition viewing before a hakari, or feast, at midday. Entertainment and exhibitions will continue before a closing and karakia at 4pm.

Ms Wikins said the centennial was "all coming together," while Ms Chapman said the community had rallied around the organisation of it all and large crowds are expected on Wednesday.