Future of New Plymouth's first marae in limbo due to funding issues

Ngati Te Whiti  Whenua Topu trustee Peter Moeahu says the Ngamotu Marae build is on hold due to a lack of money.
Robert Charles

Ngati Te Whiti Whenua Topu trustee Peter Moeahu says the Ngamotu Marae build is on hold due to a lack of money.

The construction of New Plymouth's only marae is on hold indefinitely due to a lack of money to fund the project.

It was initially hoped Ngamotu Marae, a project of the Ngati Te Whiti Whenua Topu Trust, would be built by June this year but this is no longer feasible.

Trust spokesman Peter Moeahu said it was because it did not have enough funds to proceed.

The original design of the Ngamotu Marae will not proceed, as the trust don't have enough money to fund it.
Supplied

The original design of the Ngamotu Marae will not proceed, as the trust don't have enough money to fund it.

The initial design of the marae, which is to be located on Ocean View Pde site, was to cost $4.5 million and based on the original concept of high profile architect Murali Bhaskar. 

However, Moeahu said during a trust meeting last December, a review of its financial situation forced a complete re-think of the entire project.

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New Plymouth architect Murali Bhaskar completed the original designs for the  marae, which had a budget of about $4.5 ...
Andy Jackson

New Plymouth architect Murali Bhaskar completed the original designs for the marae, which had a budget of about $4.5 million attached.

The marae build has been decades in the making and got the all clear to go ahead in early 2016, after extensive testing and soil analysis revealed no contamination at the four hectare site. Three abandoned oil wells, which had been operational between 1931-1945, were also checked out.

It has been more than 130 years since Ngati Te Whiti, a hapu of Te Atiawa,  has had its  own papakainga, or spiritual home.

Moeahu said the next step in trying to make the hapu's dream a reality, was to get a set of alternative building plans drawn up. 

Shaun Keenan, the previous Ngamotu Marae project manager, finished in the role last  December.

Shaun Keenan, the previous Ngamotu Marae project manager, finished in the role last December.

He said while Bhaskar had "done an excellent job" for the hapu, the cost to bring his plans to fruition were beyond them.

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"The design that we had was quite expensive and we're rethinking the whole approach," Moeahu said.

He said the trust had already spent more than $700,000 from its coffers on the marae project. This included legal and architectural fees, along with salary costs.

In order to cut back its expenditure, the trust had moved offices and also changed its organisational structure, Moeahu said.  

This included an end to the contracted position of former project manager Shaun Keenan, who finished up in December.

Moeahu said there had been no fall out between Keenan and the trust, it was just a matter of the organisation trying to live within its means.

Once a revised design for the marae was completed and costs attached to it, the next step would be a fundraising drive.

"How successful we are with that will determine the timing of the build," Moeahu said.

The ongoing delays had left the wider hapu members "disappointed" but Moeahu said the group was determined to see the project through to completion.

Resource and building consents have previously been granted for the marae construction.

 - Stuff

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