New dawn for new marae

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By FLORENCE KERR

Af­ter five years of fundrais­ing and shed­ding blood, sweat and tears, the peo­ple of Mangakino now have a place to call home.

Pouakani Marae, par­tic­u­larly the Ta­mateapokai Whenua wharenui, was a fo­cal point for lo­cals where they mourned their dead, cel­e­brated their ac­com­plish­ments and show­cased their beau­ti­ful taonga. But on May 29, 2007 the peo­ple of Mangakino were wo­ken by fire sirens, their marae in ashes and ir­re­place­able taonga gone for­ever in a brazen at­tack for which no-one has been brought to jus­tice.

Last Satur­day was a day of cel­e­bra­tion for the Pouakani Marae Com­mit­tee, peo­ple of Mangakino and Ngati Kahun­gunu. As the new dawn broke, a new era for the peo­ple of Mangakino be­gan. Their marae has been raised from the ashes and new mem­o­ries can now be made.

The peo­ple of Mangakino took their places, whether it was on the paepae, set­ting up the marae, work­ing in the kitchen or singing a few songs for the vis­i­tors. The Pouakani whanau en­sured those who came from near or afar were well fed and en­ter­tained. As they wel­comed close to 1000 peo­ple who gath­ered to cel­e­brate their suc­cess, they weren’t about to let any­one know that the ma­jor­ity of them had only five hours’ sleep dur­ing the week lead­ing up to the grand open­ing.

Marae com­mit­tee chair­man Whitu Ka­rauna told a full house on Satur­day that the last minute touches were be­ing added right up un­til the first karanga went out.

‘‘Our last pou in the marae went up at 4.15am this morn­ing,’’ Mr Ka­rauna said.

He thanked the marae com­mit­tee, spon­sors, ev­ery­one that made the marae pos­si­ble.

‘‘I wish to ac­knowl­edge those that have worked on our marae. The fu­ture of our marae is to sus­tain and main­tain it and keep it go­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Sure, there were dis­agree­ments dur­ing this process but we got there and I am very proud of the work we have all done,’’ Mr Ka­rauna said. The lo­cals en­ter­tained guests with pop­u­lar Maori wa­iata, and Un­cle Wogg sang a few Elvis fa­vorites, while MC New Zealand ac­tor and Mangakino old boy Hori Ahipene had the crowd in stitches. As the day wound up and vis­i­tors be­gan their jour­ney home, the peo­ple of Mangakino are happy they have their marae back, a place where they can stand strong, a place where the peo­ple of Mangakino can call home.

Like the old Maori proverb, Ka mate te kainga tahi, ka ora te kainga rua – when one house dies, a sec­ond lives.

Pho­tos: NOEL FER­GU­SON

HOME: The new wharenui.

NEW BE­GIN­NING: Hun­dreds gath­ered for the bless­ing of Pouakani Marae at dawn on Satur­day.

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