Motuti Marae Trust Cultural Mapping Project

Funding supports interpretation signage for Raiatea, the new whare taonga (museum) at Motuti Marae. 

Raiatea whare taonga in the sunshine.
Raiatea exterior. Photo: Whina Te Whiuexpand/collapse

This cultural mapping project is about the collation of historical information required to create an interpretation board for Raiatea, the new whare taonga at Motuti Marae. It will help Ngati Tamatea to share their stories and to create a positive experience for whanau and their manuhiri (guests/visitors).

Motuti Marae is in Pangaru, in the northern Hokianga. Project Lead Whina Te Whiu speaks passionately about her hometown. "It's the kind of place where, when you ask people how they are, you mean it."

There is a grouping of three significant buildings around the marae. Tamatea, the whare tupuna (ancestral House), Kohinemataroa, the whare kai (dining hall) and the recently built Raiatea, which is the new whare taonga, archive, and research centre.

More than 2,500 whanau came through the whare taonga in less than two months.
Raiatea whare taonga interior with displays and red carpet.

Installation of the new interpretation board inside Raiatea is anticipated to be completed soon. It will show a large map highlighting significant sites and will have sixty whenua tupuna names on it. Funding from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga through our Mātauranga Māori contestable grants programme supports this last part of the much bigger project for the Motuti Marae Trust.

Creating the interpretation board included discussions around oral histories, content, and design. Whina negotiated the content for the map, with her focus being on whakapapa (genealogical) connections to the physical landscape. “It was a great honour and responsibility, and a great learning experience for me,” she says. 

Paul White, architect of Raiatea, worked with the Auckland based designer. The process has taken longer than expected, largely, because of interferences related to Covid. Hapū deliberations and meetings with the designer in Auckland stalled due to lengthy restrictions on travel and health and safety concerns.

Because of the long delay of the wider project, Whina asked that Raiatea be left open for the hapū and whanaunga marae (marae family) to encourage their connection with the new building. There has been a lot of interest. More than 2,500 whanau came through the whare taonga in less than two months. Whina is happy and proud that whanau and hapū are talking about it and taking ownership of it. “It was always in my mind that our whare taonga is one of the first hapū managed and owned museum/research centres where we chose the stories that we are open to sharing with our manuhiri, stories to make people inquisitive.” 

The whare taonga is not currently open to the public but likely will be over the summer.

Niki Partsch