[140121WCBRCWav04.JPG] Robina and Anne-Marie Broughton are overseeing a series of upgrades for Whenuakura Marae. Photos / Bevan Conley [140121WCBRCWav09.JPG] The cat Pamatangi is a fixture at the marae. Laurel Stowell email@example.com
Making access from SH3 to Whenuakura Marae less risky is the main aim of a $229,000 upgrade beginning this month, chairwoman Anne-Marie Broughton says.
The marae applied for Provincial Growth Fund money and also intends to replace the old, borer-ridden floor in its wharekai and add doors that will eventually connect it to the wharenui.
It's a small marae for the Pamatangi and Ngāti Hinewaiata hapū and is in the overlap zone between the Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui iwi. It's placed on SH3 between a bend and the Whenuakura River bridge, with cars and trucks hurtling by at 100km/h.
During a big tangi on August 2019 cars were parked all along the highway. The marae entrance became muddy and Māori wardens were needed to control traffic when cars had to be pushed up onto the highway.
For more than 10 years the marae has asked Waka Kotahi/NZTA to widen the verge so that people can pull over safely. Waka Kotahi didn't have the funding but gave permission.
Now the marae will pay for the work itself.
The upgrade will also widen the marae entrance and created a paved carpark on the 1ha reserve - enough for 27 cars. There will be space for overflow parking on grass.
The Government money has come at a perfect time for marae development, Anne-Marie Broughton said, and they are grateful for it.
The marae is closed while this work is being done, with Pamatangi the "ninja" cat its sole occupant. He belonged to former resident Dougie Rongonui, and is now fed by passersby.
They include neighbouring farmer Bushy Dodunski - who paced around until help came when he found the cat locked inside the wharekai one evening.
"Bushy hadn't seen him for a few days. He always come out for Bushy," Anne-Marie Broughton said.
The upgrade to access and flooring is only one part of a long-term plan.
Eventually the ablution block will be upgraded and the 1933 wharenui, Matangirei, will be linked to the wharekai by a covered atrium.
"We want this to be a marae where you can move back and forth in your socks," Robina Broughton said.
Matangirei will also have to be either upgraded or replaced, with its carvings kept.
This other work will have to be funded by the marae.
Less physical but equally important is getting its people connected back to the place. A recent internet connection at the marae should help.
"There's a diaspora - that's what we have to work our way through. Getting that diaspora back and interested and part of it."
A sense of identity is a basic human need, Robina Broughton said, and Māori get it from connection to whānau and to a marae.
The third aim for the hapū is mana motuhake - self determination "our own dreams and aspirations for our people".
Last winter a group met in the marae's "fabulous" kitchen every Monday, to cook meals and put together grocery bags and deliver them to "families that need some love" in Pātea.
They called the initiative Te Kete a Rongo, and made 700 meals and 116 grocery bags.
"That was our koha to the community last winter. It was a tough time for families and we just thought 'Who doesn't enjoy receiving some nice kai?'" Anne-Marie Broughton said.
People used to swim in the river, near the bridge, but the water quality is now too low.
"We just don't think this land should be used for dairy farming. We are very very opposed to any more irrigation from the awa."
The first Whenuakura Marae was at the river mouth. After it was moved inland local whānau used to move out to the coast in summer, and they still have a strong connection to the sea.
They oppose seabed mining and are asking their MPs to get the Government to put an interim moratorium on it, and later to completely disallow it. They are waiting to hear the Supreme Court's decision on Trans-Tasman Resources' iron-sand mining consents.
They approved Waipipi Wind Farm's application to build wind turbines on coastal lands, because it is an environmentally friendly source of energy. The turbines now dominate the skyline and the development has re-opened access to 20ha of tribal land on the Waipipi coast.