Historic marae looks to future
A small band of enthusiastic workers are striving hard to preserve a piece of Maori heritage in Manawatu.
The historical Aorangi marae, two kilometres from Feilding, needs funds for renovations to its ablution block and kitchen, and will stage a celebrity quiz fundraiser on August 12.
The marae was transported to the current site in the late 1880s and has played an important role in developing Maori culture since.
With frequent upgrades, it will continue to provide direction for future Maori and Pakeha generations, committee member Hinemoana Durie said.
About 480 people are expected at the Feilding Civic Centre for the quiz, which features wellknown personalities such as Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Pulse coach Yvette McCauslandDurie and Howard Morrison Jr.
‘‘It’s all about making sure these young people will have good facilities in 40-50 years, so our young people will have a marae in the future,’’ Durie said.
‘‘We host a lot of local groups. It’s quite a community place. It’s not just Maori people using it.’’
To create a sustainable future, the marae held a holiday workshop for whakapapa – young people, aged 12-18, in the marae’s line of descent.
They learnt basic flax weaving, cooking, how to make Maori toys and put on a performance for whanau.
The meeting house has a rich history – from when the Ngati Kauwhata people travelled down from Waikato in 1830.
They settled in Awahuri, near the Oroua River, where they established a small village and took an interest in clearing land for agriculture.
About 50 years later, Te Rama Apakura and his wife Hurihia, also known as Mr and Mrs Robert Durie, moved from the Awahuri site to Aorangi to farm land.
With them went other members of Ngati Tahuriwakanui, a sub-tribe of Kauwhata, which built houses as land was cleared.
They also moved their meeting house, Maniahu, that had previously stood on the Awahuri side of the Oroua River. The marae was in good condition when it was re-erected on the present site in about 1888, Durie said.
At the turn of the century, the settlement boasted a bakery, blacksmith and general store.
By 1920, much of the responsibility had been assumed by Mason Durie and his wife Kahu.
Children gather at the Aorangi Marae for a holiday course about Maori traditions.