Murihiku Marae reopening a proud moment for Waihōpai Rūnaka

Murihiku Marae reopened its doors on the 2nd of June following an extensive redevelopment project that shows commitment to environmental sustainability and community wellbeing. The completion of this multi-million dollar development, incorporating a triple net-zero approach—targeting water, energy, and carbon neutrality—marks a proud milestone for Waihōpai Rūnaka.

Over the course of just 12 months, the transformation of Murihiku Marae took shape, from the laying of the mauri stone that started the construction. Guided by an environmentally sustainable design and build philosophy, the marae now stands as an example of innovative architectural solutions.

Waihōpai Rūnaka Chair Cyril Gilroy says they are proud that Murihiku Marae is built to this level of environmental standard.

“Murihiku Marae is an investment for the future that honours our past while meeting our present needs. It is made to work and last.” he says.

“It can be done and as an Iwi, we need to lead the way.”

The aerial view reveals a tohorā (whale) shape, with the newly developed Hine o te Iwi featuring a reception area situated at the tail. The body of the marae houses modern facilities such as offices, meeting rooms, wānanga spaces, and the wharekai (dining area). Preserving the wairua (spirit) and significance of the marae, the wharenui Te Rakitauneke, remains as the head of this remarkable transformation.

Incorporating sustainable practices, the marae is designed to maximise natural light, features solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and stormwater treatment facilitated by wetlands. Electricity will be used for cooking and heating.

Waihōpai Rūnaka envisions Murihiku Marae as a vibrant community hub. The marae will enable Waihōpai Rūnaka to expand its community support services, operate as a Civil Defence Emergency Centre, and provide a hub for educational initiatives in Murihiku Southland.

Finance Minister Hon Grant Robertson and MP for Te Tai Tonga Hon Rino Tirikatene were present for the reopening event.

Mr Gilroy says he hopes that, “whānau and the wider community view the marae as a safe place – where all feel warmly welcomed.”

“I look forward to having the community take part in the many celebrations to come.”

Waihōpai Rūnaka gratefully acknowledges the support of funders that contributed to this remarkable project. The Murihiku Marae Redevelopment Project was funded through the Government’s Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.  Other important contributors were the Te Puni Kokiri and Department of Internal Affairs Oranga Marae Fund, Community Trust South, Invercargill Licensing Trust, Invercargill Licensing Foundation, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Marae Development Fund, and Waihōpai Rūnaka.