Tikapa Marae restorations celebrated on East Coast

Full restoration: The East Coast meeting house of Tikapa Marae, named after the ancestor Pokai, has been fully restored — with renovations to its building and the recreating of its carvings that were damaged. The whare was rededicated and the carvings were unveiled last week. Picture by Natalie Robertson
Carver Lionel Matenga

The people of Tikapa Marae have celebrated the rededication of their meeting house Poka, and the unveiling of its restored carvings.

It was a major occasion for the East Coast marae, located near the mouth of the Waiapu River, which has seen a major renovation and restoration project in recent years.

Last Saturday, hundreds from throughout the country attended the rededication and unveiling ceremony.

The meeting house was badly damaged and its carvings were destroyed in Cyclone Giselle in 1968 — the same storm that caused New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Lyttleton-Wellington ferry Wahine.

Fifty years later the meeting house is now fully restored and renovations have also been made to the wharekai (dining hall) Pohatu.

Te Whanau a Pokai pakeke (elder) Archdeacon Morehu Te Maro said the event was an emotional day for all involved.

“It was very emotional for us because of the journey that we have been on to get to this point.

“During the Wahine storm our buildings were damaged and our carvings were torn down.

“Over time we realised we needed to do something urgently about our buildings. The major renovations were the first priority.”

The restoration of the carvings followed, led by Te Whanau a Pokai carver Lionel Matenga.

The carving project was massive, with Mr Matenga and his team of students recreating the full mahau — the entire front of the house — and the inside of the porchway and kowhaiwhai (painted rafters).

In keeping to the traditions of the area, the whare has been carved in the East Coast style of Iwirakau, a renowned tohunga whakairo (master carver).

The timber for the carvings came from Titiraupenga, an ancestral mountain of Ngati Tuwharetoa near Tokoroa.

It is the mountain of Mr Matenga’s wife Te Aroha, whose people gifted the timber to Te Whanau a Pokai.

“We can be grateful for these people that took it on to help one of our sons to complete the carving,” said Mr Te Maro.

“Now we can relax and take time out to enjoy this beautiful work, now that all of that work is done. We feel blessed.”

Mr Te Maro acknowledged the contribution that young people had made to the project.

“We need our youth. We are very grateful to our young people for their work in helping with this project .Now we have a base for them to come home to — a place for them to pick up their language and their culture, and learn a little bit about themselves.

“This is more than just a building. It is a whare wananga (house of learning) for our youth.

“To me that is the greatest part. The whole journey of this great renovation, it has brought this place alive again.”

The people of Tikapa Marae have celebrated the rededication of their meeting house Poka, and the unveiling of its restored carvings.

It was a major occasion for the East Coast marae, located near the mouth of the Waiapu River, which has seen a major renovation and restoration project in recent years.

Last Saturday, hundreds from throughout the country attended the rededication and unveiling ceremony.

The meeting house was badly damaged and its carvings were destroyed in Cyclone Giselle in 1968 — the same storm that caused New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Lyttleton-Wellington ferry Wahine.

Fifty years later the meeting house is now fully restored and renovations have also been made to the wharekai (dining hall) Pohatu.

Te Whanau a Pokai pakeke (elder) Archdeacon Morehu Te Maro said the event was an emotional day for all involved.

“It was very emotional for us because of the journey that we have been on to get to this point.

“During the Wahine storm our buildings were damaged and our carvings were torn down.

“Over time we realised we needed to do something urgently about our buildings. The major renovations were the first priority.”

The restoration of the carvings followed, led by Te Whanau a Pokai carver Lionel Matenga.

The carving project was massive, with Mr Matenga and his team of students recreating the full mahau — the entire front of the house — and the inside of the porchway and kowhaiwhai (painted rafters).

In keeping to the traditions of the area, the whare has been carved in the East Coast style of Iwirakau, a renowned tohunga whakairo (master carver).

The timber for the carvings came from Titiraupenga, an ancestral mountain of Ngati Tuwharetoa near Tokoroa.

It is the mountain of Mr Matenga’s wife Te Aroha, whose people gifted the timber to Te Whanau a Pokai.

“We can be grateful for these people that took it on to help one of our sons to complete the carving,” said Mr Te Maro.

“Now we can relax and take time out to enjoy this beautiful work, now that all of that work is done. We feel blessed.”

Mr Te Maro acknowledged the contribution that young people had made to the project.

“We need our youth. We are very grateful to our young people for their work in helping with this project .Now we have a base for them to come home to — a place for them to pick up their language and their culture, and learn a little bit about themselves.

“This is more than just a building. It is a whare wananga (house of learning) for our youth.

“To me that is the greatest part. The whole journey of this great renovation, it has brought this place alive again.”

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