About 50 Kuku residents responded to the call from Tukorehe Marae for a community meet and greet on Sunday afternoon.

They received a warm and official welcome to 'their; marae.

"This is an historical occasion," said tribal elders Lindsay Poutama and Gary Wehipeihana Jr.

When the marae was built in the 1880s it was dedicated to be the home base for Ngāti Tukorehe as well as their wider community.

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"An event like this has never happened before. As residents in Kuku, now that you have been officially welcomed, this is now your marae. You are one of us now," they said.

Ngāti Tukorehe had wanted to do something to reconnect with their local community for a long time and the recent terror in Christchurch moved them into action.

Welcome for the local community at Tukorehe Marae on Sunday March 31.
Welcome for the local community at Tukorehe Marae on Sunday March 31.

"When we were young we knew everyone in Kuku," said Yvonne Wehipeihana. "We intermingled, went to school together, went rollerskating together and visited each other's houses whether we were Māori, Pākehā or Chinese.

"We have lost that and we do not know many of our neighbours these days but we still need each other. Together we are strong, especially in times of peril."

Ngāti Tukorehe is an iwi in its own right with strong links to Tainui, Ngāti Raukawa as well as Ngāti Porou, among others and has been based in Kuku since the 1820s.

Some of the neighbours who turned up were longtime residents - the Kuku kids - while others were fairly new or had returned to their roots after a long time away. Several Ngāti Tukorehe members had travelled home for the meet and greet with their neighbours from further afield.

Mixing and mingling for the neighbours of Tukorehe Marae in Kuku.
Mixing and mingling for the neighbours of Tukorehe Marae in Kuku.

After the welcome there was an impressive spread of food in the whare kai, after which all were invited to step into the wharenui for a rundown of the history of Ngāti Tukorehe and their marae. This was followed by an opportunity for all to introduce themselves and find out connections with neighbours.

The events went down well with those who attended and it is the plan to hold many more community events.

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