Ko Motupōhue te maunga
Ko Te Ara a Kiwa te moana
Ko Te Rau Aroha te marae
Ko Tahu-pōtiki te whare tupuna
Te Rūnaka o Awarua is based at Te Rau Aroha Marae in the port-town of Bluff, approximately 25 kilometres south of Invercargill. This marae complex began with the opening of the whare-kai, Te Rau Aroha, in 1985. Its whare-tipuna, Tahu-pōtiki, opened in February 2003. A kōhanga, Te Rourou Whakatipuranga o Awarua, opened in 2006. Six kaumātua units were added in 2022.
Between 1999 and 2002 the celebrated artist Cliff Whiting (nō Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), supported by Kāti Kurī, assisted local whānau to adorn the whare-kai and whare-tipuna with a vibrant array of tukutuku, whakairo and kōwhaiwhai. These reflect whakapapa, traditions and events at Awarua, southern Murihiku more broadly, and the iwi as a whole.
The marae complex was built directly above the still-standing Tārere ki Whenua Uta, a Native Hostelry opened in 1903. This replaced an earlier “Māori House” erected on the Bluff foreshore in 1880. Both hostelries housed whānau travelling between Ruapuke and Rakiura, and to and from the Tītī Islands. However, as whānau increasingly established their primary residences at Awarua, a large meeting space was needed. Between the mid-1960s and early 1980s this was provided by the Waitaha Hall, situated behind the Bluff Town Hall. The former’s demise led to the development of Te Rau Aroha, out of which grew Te Rūnaka o Awarua Charitable Trust in 1994. Tā Tipene O’Regan was appointed Upoko of Awarua in 1999, succeeding Robert Whaitiri who died three years earlier.