Te Rau­paraha re­calls the fuss and pomp


His name car­ries a lot of weight and for one day in 2008 it meant even more. Te Rau­paraha Horomona was 11 when he was cho­sen to be front and cen­tre for the open­ing of Porirua’s new $17.5 mil­lion sports sta­dium on Novem­ber 21, 2008.

There was se­crecy around the nam­ing of the com­plex be­fore the an­nounce­ment was made to hon­our Ngati Toa’s most fa­mous chief, Te Rau­paraha, who com­posed Ka Mate.

Horomona, a de­scen­dant of the chief, is back liv­ing in Taka­puwahia af­ter five years at Te Aute Col­lege in Hawke’s Bay. He re­called be­ing ner­vous and proud at the of­fi­cial open­ing.

He cut the rib­bon with Porirua mayor Jenny Brash.

‘‘There were a few nerves and a lot of cam­eras around,’’ he said. ‘‘But I was pretty com­fort­able with why I was there and who and what I was rep­re­sent­ing. I just had to get out there and do it.’’

Horomona, who at­tended Te Kura Maori o Porirua, said his par­ents still had the news­pa­per clip­pings and he thinks about the event now and again.

Hav­ing a sports sta­dium with the same name down the road was a re­minder of what he wanted to live up to, he said.

Rara, as he is known, is the youngest of four brothers.

He said he was keen on a break af­ter com­plet­ing year 13. The mil­i­tary or univer­sity stud­ies – car­ry­ing on Maori stud­ies from school – were likely in his near fu­ture.

‘‘I’m happy to be back in Porirua and I’m in catch-up mode with ev­ery­one at the mo­ment. I grew up here and have al­ways liked it.’’

Al­though there was angst about the hefty price tag of the arena – two-thirds of the cost would come from grants and the sale of the Aotea Block – the name and how much the build­ing would en­croach onto the park, the crit­ics have all but dis­ap­peared.

More than 250,000 peo­ple visit the sta­dium and at­tached aquatic cen­tre each year for many dif­fer­ent events.

Te Rau­paraha Arena has sur­passed TSB Bank Arena as the largest in­door events cen­tre in the Welling­ton re­gion.

A gala evening was held to co­in­cide with the of­fi­cial open­ing, and it wel­comed 500 guests for a ban­quet din­ner. Opera singer Ben Mak­isi per­formed that night and Auck­land band Ne­sian Mys­tik filled the sta­dium the fol­low­ing evening.

The fa­cil­ity was fully booked for its first 12 months with sports and events, and this trend largely con­tin­ues to­day.


Eleven-year-old Te Rau­paraha Horomona out­side the arena on Novem­ber 20, 2008.

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