Arahura Whare Tipuna Opens

Arahura Whare Tipuna opened today with a dawn blessing, followed by a pōwhiri mid-morning.

“It has been a great occasion to celebrate our whare tipuna opening with our manuhiri,” says Francois Tumahai, chair of Ngāti Waewae. “We are also celebrating with hundreds of our whānau who have returned to the Coast for both the opening of the whare tipuna and the Ngāi Tahu Hui-a-Tau, which we host tomorrow.

“So much aroha and years of mahi have gone into our marae complex. The time has flown by and we are finally seeing the moemoeā of our kaumātua come to fruition.”

Numerous dignitaries, iwi representatives, politicians and whānau travelled to Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast) for the celebrations and to view the whare tipuna on the terrace overlooking the Arahura River and the ocean.

The history of Arahura goes back a long way. In 1859 the Crown entered into negotiations with Poutini Ngāi Tahu for the purchase of Te Tai Poutini (West Coast). Historian Harry Evison recorded how Poutini Ngāi Tahu wanted to keep around 375,000 acres between the Māwhera (Grey) and Hokitika Rivers but had to settle for 58 native reserves – in total just 10,224 acres including a 2000 acre reserve at Arahura. Land was later taken for rail and roading purposes. A whare wānanga was opened at Arahura in 1989 by the Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

In 2006, Ngāti Waewae was gifted the land for the new marae on the terrace by the Riki Te Mairaki Ellison Taiaroa Trust and in 2008 plans were drawn up for the marae, with a major boost occurring in 2009, with a Lotteries grant of $9000,000 towards the project. Construction of stage one (kitchen and office building) started in March 2010. Construction on the whare tipuna started in November 2013. It was designed by MAP Architects. The carvings were supervised by Ngāi Tahu carver Fayne Robinson. Generous funding came from the Ngāi Tahu Fund and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua.