Hemi Schuster, whose great-great grandfather Tene Waitere, helped carve the historic Māori meeting house Hinemihi which is based in Clandon Park, England, is supporting a call for funding to become available to restore the historical wharenui.
Schuster is a historian and Māori arts expert and has known about the state of Hinemihi o Te Ao Tawhito for some time.
“There's no floor in the house, no power and no lights,” says Schuster.
In 1892, the 4th Earl of Onslow, purchased the meeting house from the people of Ngāti Hinemihi as a souvenir and transported the house to Clandon Park. In 1956, the Park including Hinemihi, were donated to The National Trust, UK.
Despite its current home, Schuster has a special tie to this taonga, “The house belongs to the National Trust, however the spiritual connection of the house belongs to us, to Ngāti Hinemihi.”
A custodians Trust based in England (Te Maru o Hinemihi) is set with the task of lobbying for improvement regarding Hinemihi.
The current chair, London based Architect Anthony Hoete says that their immediate concern is preservation and protection, “The most symbolic parts of the whare, actually the carvings they need some protecting, they need to be removed for the winter.”
Hoete will be meeting with the National Trust, UK within the next week and a half, “We've dealing with a very large organisation to give them a lot of credit, National Trust, they have over the years changed their understanding of culture as not being artefact, but culture has being whakapapa, has being genealogy, culture as being living."
Jim understands the return of Hinemihi to Aotearoa is a far reality. So what he hopes now, is for it to be refurbished into a living whare so groups can enjoy its beauty.