After almost a decade of hard work and dedication the New Zealand Airforce has officially opened its very first marae, which the Chief of Airforce is calling their own tūrangawaewae at the Ohakea base in Palmerston North.
It was a historical day for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Tony Davies -Chief of Air Force says, “This is the culmination of basically 8 years of work to get to this point and to this day and if you look at the hundreds of people that have been involved in this especially in the past two years with all the construction and the preparing for it the training that’s going into it, it's all coming to a focal point right on today.”
Douglas Wallace - Kaiwhakahere Marae says, “We had help from our friends in the NZ Army and the Navy, they already had a meeting house, a marae but we didn't, so it's hugely significant because this is our first tūrangawaewae for the Air Force.”
With only a low budget to make the dream a reality, old Air Force buildings were relocated and transformed into the tūrangawaewae along with countless man hours.
Davies says, “Calling it a turangawaewae for all intents and purposes it's exactly the same but it hasn't got those ancestral links that a marae has.
Previously the Air Force hosted its manuhiri at local marae in the area, but now they have a meeting house to call their own Te Ara Wheturangi a Kai.
Wallace says, “It's not as if this place is just for Māori only, no, it's for everyone no matter whether they have brown or white skin.”
Establishing an Air Force Marae has been one of the major objectives of the Airforce to enhance its mana and enrich its culture.