Former students of Turakina Maori Girls' College were among the 200 or so people present at the official opening of a new health and administration hub for Rangitikei iwi yesterday.

The former college officially became Te Poho o Tuariki, the health services and administration base for Rangitīkei iwi Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa.

The official opening was attended by about 200 people - including women who attended the former school, as well as MP Harete Hipango.

In April 2018 Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa bought the 5ha property from the Turakina Ngā Hara Trust, which took ownership after the school closed in January 2016. It became the base for its tribal administration and its health service, Te Kōtuku Hauora.

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The iwi also has aspirations to use the property for education and training. It received $95,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund to explore those possibilities.

The official opening precedes the tribe's two-yearly Apa Rising Festival, with games and activities for all ages on February 16 and 17.

The opening began with a pōwhiri, with hosts and guests seated outside in gentle rain.

The speakers for Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa were Mike Paki and his son, Mikaere Paki. Visiting speakers were Kahurangi Simon, Mike Neho, Richard Steedman, Andre Meihana, Gerrard Albert, Che Wilson and Manaaki Tibble.

Other attendees were the mayors of Rangitīkei and Whanganui, Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie and Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe.

Being greeted at Te Poho o Tuariki are (from left) Che Wilson, Manaaki Tibble and Gerrard Albert. Whanganui Chronicle photograph by Bevan Conley.
Being greeted at Te Poho o Tuariki are (from left) Che Wilson, Manaaki Tibble and Gerrard Albert. Whanganui Chronicle photograph by Bevan Conley.

Gifts to the new centre included two kōwhai trees, from Rangitīkei District Council.

After the pōwhiri the trees were to be officially planted and a sign unveiled. Then a museum of taonga from the Turakina Māori Girls' College days was to be opened with karakia.

Speeches about aspirations for the new headquarters were also planned, as well as a celebratory hakari (feast).

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Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa received its Treaty of Waitangi settlement in 2011 and has been doing lots of development since.

The first speaker on behalf of Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa was Mike Paki. Photo / Bevan Conley
The first speaker on behalf of Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa was Mike Paki. Photo / Bevan Conley

It has a four-member commercial board, and has invested in both land and commercial property. It holds regular tribal festivals and hikoi on the Whangaehu River, and it has a programme to grow young leaders.