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Marae History
Arohanui Ki Te Tangata

te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui Inc.



THE stage was now set to complete the heart of the building-the Maori heart.

Throughout the war years priceless Maori carvings, gems of Maori art, had lain inadequately stored. These carvings were the result of the inspiration of Sir Apirana Ngata. He had conceived the idea of building and carving a meeting-house at the Wellington Centennial Exhibition held in Wellington during 1940. He drew together the nation's best carvers for this work.
Carved from the best heart totara available, these carvings were offered to the Maoris of the South Island, after the exhibition, on the understanding that they would build a suitable meeting-house to house them in Christchurch. The southern Maoris had declined the gift. Hearing this, Mr. Puketapu approached the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser and offered to buy the carvings for erection in the meeting-house being planned for Waiwhetu. The offer was accepted.
The late Mr. Gordon Wilson, government architect, drew up the plans for a magnificent house - a house worthy of the carvings. It was found that for such a large building an additional 5000 super feet of heart totara would have to be carved. The tukutuku (woven reed panels) also had to be done. Six carvers were employed, namely Charles Tuarau in the planning stages, and later Hone Tai­apa as head carver, together with Ngata Ruru, James Ruru, Rangi Hetet and Charles Rutene. One tukutuku expert, Mrs. Roa Wharepouri was also engaged. The collection and preparation of the kie kie plant for the tuku­tuku panels and the beautiful woven mats that will adorn the house on ceremonial occasions was done under the tutorship and supervision of Mrs. Ngaroahiahi Waiwai, an old lady from the Urewera country steeped in the ancient skills of her people. These were the elite craftsmen and women, the masters in Maori art. Working under them and with them at various times were over 150 voluntary workers, Maori and pakeha. They worked cheerfully and consistently both in the meeting-house and in some cases weaving tukutuku panels in their homes as far away as Otaki, Waikanae, Porirua and Wellington.

There are over 10,000 super feet of heart totara carvings in the building. The tukutuku work covers 600 square feet. The overall dimensions of the meeting-house are 98' x 58'.





The noted Ngatiporou carver and master craftsman, Mr Hone Te Kauru Taiapa, MBE, who was head carver on the job.









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