After seven years of negotiations, including a change of legislation to the Community Trusts Act, the TSB Community Trust area now includes Patea and Waverley. This lines up with both the South Taranaki District Council and Taranaki District Health Board boundaries.
Marae Trustees Ngapari Nui (Vice-Chair), Narlene Ioane (Secretary) and Marama Pullen (Treasurer) are proud the marae has achieved such an historic milestone.
“We have to thank those people who fought to get the boundary changed,” Ngapari says, naming Hugh Cunningham, Jimmy Ngarewa, Chester Borrows and Ross Dunlop, among others.
“We are glad to be the first – it’s very significant,” Narlene says.
The boundary change also means the cash-strapped marae can apply for other grants.
“We are looking at some bigger projects. We get a chance to get funding – before it was just Lotteries.”
Over the past few years, the marae has spent about $500,000 rebuilding a new dining room, called Te u Kaipo, refurbishing Ko Rangiharuru, the largest wharenui in the Nga Rauru Iwi area and upgrading the wharepaku.
The $2,400 operational grant will help the rural marae with its week-to-week running and its aim to be a place for the whole community.
Te Wai-o-Turi, which has stunning views of the sea and Taranaki Mounga, is also home to a thriving kohanga reo and there are plans to bring kaumatua to the marae for weekly outings.
“This year we have been very busy. We’ve had a school group come and stay and that’s giving back to the kids,” Ngapari says.
“We want more groups to come here and use our marae.”
He wants Te Wai-o-Turi to be a welcoming and comfortable place for people to visit, especially those who have never been on a marae before. “Not everybody is used to getting called on to a marae.”
When the nearby Whenuakura School celebrated its 125th anniversary, there was nowhere to conduct the Sunday service, so it was held on the marae.
Narlene says that was an emotional time for those who attended, because many had never been to the marae before.
All stays are subject to tangi, which are always given priority.
The land the marae is built on was confiscated in the 1860s and was promised to be returned in the 1870s. But that didn’t happen until 1930. The first wharenui was built in 1942 and the wharekai in 1954.
“We hope this place will survive long into the future – it was left to us for a reason,’ Narlene says.