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.