His­toric marae looks to fu­ture

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Your Local News - SAM KILMIS­TER

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.

PHOTO: HINEMOANA DURIE/SUP­PLIED

Chil­dren gather at the Ao­rangi Marae for a hol­i­day course about Maori tra­di­tions.

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