The atrium at Kaitaia's civic centre, Te Ahu, is finally complete.

The seventh and final pouwhenua, representing Ngati Kahu, was installed and unveiled earlier this month. The others represent the other Muriwhenua (Ngati Kuri, installed in 2012), Te Aupouri, NgaiTakoto and Te Rarawa), the Croatian settlers and Pakeha.

Tohunga whakairo (master carver) o Ngati Kahu Paul Marshall Slade said the seven individual ceremonies that had accompanied the unveiling of each of the pou had extended the introduction of a community asset, recording the participation in the development of "our beautiful, unique and priceless region" by each of the seven peoples represented.

The pou, he said, had added significantly to Te Ahu - a marae complex, community hall, service centre with IT, museum, theatre, an extensive library, information centre and art gallery, where people could meet, have a coffee and enjoy the scenery.


It was a pleasure to see the number of people flowing through Te Ahu and enjoying the facilities.

"It is a meeting place of great historical significance for tangata whenua," Mr Slade said.

"Like the other members of the large team who believed in the vision and helped put this facility together, I am grateful and honoured to have been a part of it. Long may this ship of Te Ahu sail on this river on which we have placed the atrium with its competent and proven captain/manager Mark Osborne.

"There are many people to thank for this facility, one of them being then Mayor Wayne Brown, who stepped in to take control of the project when things were reaching a confused and critical situation. Wayne's management and experience ensured the project's completion on budget, or what was left of it, with local contractors.

"Wayne allowed me to design the atrium, and with Richard Murray's graphic skills we produced the plan with seven carved pou and the stingray floor," he said.

"Local architects Doug Beard, Joey Parsons and Alan Simpkin put the nuts and bolts together, with Alan's entrance and Doug's amazing glasswork. With our builder John Whitlow and his team of craftsmen, overseen by engineers Haig Workman, of Kerikeri, it all materialised."

Among the most valued friends and supporters was the late Phil Cross, who had done his very best for the project, and the museum in particular.

"Without him to champion the heritage component I can only hope his role is not undervalued or forgotten," Mr Slade said.

"I know this may be just history now, but [completion] was a big day for me and some of my team in that we had completed a reasonable amount of carving and artwork to meet the specialised requirements of whakapapa and kaupapa of the seven peoples, with no problems that could not be resolved."