Marae to expand capacity, services

TIME FOR CHANGE: Te Hora Marae committee members Elaine and Tom Wilson say it’s time their marae, at Canvastown, is expanded.
TIME FOR CHANGE: Te Hora Marae committee members Elaine and Tom Wilson say it’s time their marae, at Canvastown, is expanded.

A $600,000 expansion of Canvastown's Te Hora Marae will more than double its maximum capacity.

It will be the first major upgrade of the marae, which belongs to Ngati Kuia iwi, since it was built about 30 years ago.Te Runanga o Ngati Kuia board member Peter Meihana said the iwi had been asking for the extension for quite some time, to cater for their expanding whanau.

"Our iwi has grown and we want the ability, when our families come from afar, to be able to look after them, so it's a big step for them," he said.

The building had been on the site for about 30 years, and had a tiny kitchen or wharekai, Meihana said.

"[The kitchen] is just far too small so the wharekai has been talked about for quite some time so we're going to build a wharekai but also the whole marae complex is going to be redone . . . the time's right to do it."

Consent for the expansion had been granted and construction was set to get under way before the end of the year.

The work was being funded by the Ngati Kuia iwi trust.

It would focus mainly on the kitchen and dining area, but would also include work on the wharemoi, or sleeping area, Meihana said.

Marae committee member Elaine Wilson said the upgrade had been a long time coming and would allow them to cater for groups of around 200 people.

"At the moment we can accommodate inside the whare and our little veranda, I think we can probably do about 80 people, and that's a real squeeze."

"We do have hui [gatherings] out here now but it's restricted and numbers are restricted, the only thing we don't restrict ourselves for is when we have a tangi [funeral] and then we bring in marquees. We won't have to do that now," Wilson said.

She had been involved with the marae since its beginnings, and had seen three upgrades to the toilet area, but she was excited that the full expansion was finally going ahead.

"It's going to be amazing," she said.

"We have struggled in the past, especially with catering, so it's going to be a whole new scene."

The marae was used regularly by school groups from the top of the South Island and she hoped the expansion would attract more groups from throughout the country.

It would host a group of Ngati Kuia women next week, who would bring their skills and vision together to decide what the inside of the marae should look like.

"It's really exciting for us to pull all that knowledge together and it will be done through the eyes of te ao Maori," Wilson said.

The Marlborough Express