Makeover for marae

East and Bays Courier - - P13 P46 - SHANI WIL­LIAMS

A group of con­struc­tion stu­dents are putting their prac­ti­cal skills to use by ren­o­vat­ing an east Auck­land marae.

More than 20 first year New Zealand Man­age­ment Academies (NZMA) stu­dents be­gan restora­tion work at O¯ ra¯kei Marae last week.

O¯ ra¯kei Marae was built more than 40 years ago and the project, es­ti­mated to cost $150,000, will re­store carv­ings in the wharenui (meet­ing house).

The stu­dents will also trans­form a di­lap­i­dated build­ing, lo­cated op­po­site the wharenui, into an adult learn­ing cen­tre.

Due to its un­safe struc­ture, the build­ing had not been used for more than 10 years.

Work is sched­uled to take more than 12 months.

Komiti Marae O¯ ra¯kei Trust chair­per­son Wyl­lis Maihi said turn­ing the old villa into a fully-func­tion­ing learn­ing space was a valu­able op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘The project will pro­vide stu­dents with valu­able hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ Wyl­lis said.

The stu­dents work at the marae one day a week, to put into prac­tice the skills they are learn­ing as part of their cer­tifi­cate in build­ing level four pro­gramme.

The pro­gramme sets them up to en­ter the con­struc­tion in­dus­try as an ap­pren­tice or en­try-level em­ployee.

NZMA se­nior tu­tor Aaron Reid will su­per­vise the stu­dents along­side O¯ ra¯kei Marae trades­peo­ple, who will act as men­tors.

The stu­dents were wel­comed onto the marae with a tra­di­tional po¯whiri last Mon­day.

O¯ ra¯kei Marae man­ager Matt Maihi ex­plained the sig­nif­i­cance of the 700-year-old site.

Stu­dent Nita Tuiaki, 24, said this was the first time he had vis­ited a marae.

‘‘I am look­ing for­ward to un­der­stand­ing the Ma¯ori cul­ture,’’ Tuiaki said.

Tuiaki said this ex­pe­ri­ence would be the high­light of his course.

NZMA re­gional man­ager Monique Le Mar­que said it was im­por­tant for the stu­dents to un­der­stand their con­nec­tion to the past.

‘‘The his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural knowl­edge which Nga¯ti Wha¯tua O¯ ra¯kei will im­part will be a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in th­ese stu­dents be­com­ing con­tribut­ing ci­ti­zens of New Zealand’s fu­ture work­force,’’ Le Mar­que said.

Fif­teen of the stu­dents are re­cip­i­ents of the Maori and Pasi­fika Trades Train­ing schol­ar­ship (MPTT).

The MMPT schol­ar­ships give Ma¯ori and Pasi­fika stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to gain a pre-trade qual­i­fi­ca­tion at no cost.

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