Tūhourangi one step closer to building contemporary marae at Lake Tarawera

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The dream of building a marae at Lake Tarawera has moved a step closer for Tūhourangi descendants after plans for the project were unveiled this week. 

Tūhourangi kaumātua Anaru Rangiheuea has been a key driving force behind building a marae here at Tarawera. 

Rangiheuea says, “From the eruption of Tarawera, we have been lost to this land.  The majority of my ancestors are buried under the dirt and waste.  That was the massacre of Tūhourangi of that time.”

The marae will be the first rebuilt in the area since the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption, which destroyed the land and many members of Tūhourangi. 

“I have started to return, but for the vast majority returned to what?  There are no homes here, houses, that's why I wanted something to be built here even if it's small.  I wanted a home for Tūhourangi,” says Rangiheuea.

Architect Fred Stevens says the project is expected to cost around $2 million.

The new marae will be contemporary and modern with large glass panels and solar powered lighting.  However Anaru Rangiheuea says the main focus of the building will still have traditional marae elements that represent Tūhourangi.

He says, “I think about my ancestor Tūhourangi, he was a chief and Te Arawa know of his great deeds.  It was his father Rangitihi that chose him out of all his eldest children.”

Trustees of the Rotomahana Land Block have given consent to use 5 hectares of land under the trust for the project, a dream which has been well over one hundred years in the making.

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