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A Wellington urban marae reaches out for help

By Eruera Rerekura – | @erurerekura

Published: 7:23PM Thursday October 20, 2016

  •  (Source: Te Karere)
    Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay, Wellington - Source: Te Karere

An urban marae in Wellington’s Island Bay is reaching out to organisations such as the National Urban Māori Authority to help maintain its buildings.

Tapu Te Ranga was the capital’s first contemporary urban marae built in the mid-1970s by Bruce Stewart of Waikato-Tainui, and volunteers.

At the time it was built it was supported by former Wellington mayor Sir Micheal Fowler who unofficially gave Mr Stewart diplomatic immunity from gaining a building consent.

However, now that some of the buildings are nearly 40 years old they are in need of repair and strengthening, and, as a result, have been closed down by the Wellington City Council.

Mr Stewart told Te Karere that he acknowledges the safety concerns the council has with some of the whare.

“We're arguably the busiest marae in the country. Because Wellington's a busy place and there's not many marae - not like Auckland they've got tons of marae.

“But it came to the stage where the council came and closed some of the whare. Some of it's still open. Most of it. But they closed some of the whare - we need to get them open again, and not only open but safe,” Mr Stewart said.

His daughter Pare Sannyasi said it’s halved their capacity to look after their visitors.

“We're not able to properly look after our manuhiri with the amount of whare that we have. It's been a huge loss. The amount of manuhiri that we can normally sleep is around 300 people and we haven't been able to do that. We can sleep roughly up to 100, if that. It's a bit of a squeeze,” she said.

The marae is now running a campaign for people to donate funds but it was also hoping the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA) could help.

NUMA’s chair Willie Jackson praised Bruce Stewart for the work he does with Tapu Te Ranga, but said because it’s not a member of his organisation it’s not in a financial situation to help.

He also told Te Karere that NUMA’s budget had already been planned for the next six months.

But Pare Sannyasi said Taputeranga is open to any donations the community can give them.

“At this point we're willing to put our hand up to any type of help we can get,” she said.

Bruce Stewart also acknowledged Wellington’s former mayor Celia Wade-Brown for her support with the marae.