Hawke’s Bay marae renovations bring increased skills, employment, and joy for whānau
Left: Shonn Roberts, Right: Houngarea Marae
A multi-million dollar renovation of Heretaunga and Ahuriri marae is providing jobs, training for rangatahi and a surge of pride for local hapū as the marae are painted, repaired and renovated.
In October 2020, 19 marae in Heretaunga and Ahuriri received $6 million from the Provincial Growth Fund’s Marae Renovation project, a national initiative to uplift marae, increase skills and provide employment to local Māori. The PGF is managed by the government’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit and 12 months after being launched, the Te Tū Marae ki Te Matau a Māui project is in full swing, achieving its goals despite COVID lockdowns, shortages on materials and tradespeople.
The project was due to be completed in November 2021, but the project team are working within the limitations being felt across the building industry, and the need to fit in with marae – where tangihanga and whānau take precedence. “We are about 75% of the way through the project, with works in progress at 15 marae,” says project manager Lyndon Hakopa, Te Tū Marae project manager and Managing Director of Prestige Limited.
Lyndon and his wife Derisa took on Te Tū Marae project as it closely aligned with the Prestige Limited kaupapa of the past 28 years; to work with and for Māori. “Our marae are taonga that represent who we are as Māori. We feel privileged to deliver the much-needed work on our marae alongside whānau and to help change lives by providing opportunities for kaimahi to get the experience and skills that they can pass on,” says Derisa.
Lyndon and Derisa both whakapapa to Heretaunga marae, and they have ensured that 90% of the project kaimahi are Māori or Pasifika. “We try to use Māori owned sub-contractors as much as we can. We have a lot of young Māori apprentices working in this project. One of our builders Shonn came over to Prestige specifically to do the marae work and train up the young people for us,” says Lyndon.
Shonn Roberts says he took the job for several reasons. “It pulled on my heartstrings and made me think, instead of building new homes for random people, I could work on my own marae. Being able to work on the whare tipuna I thought of my ancestors doing the mahi before me, and now it’s my time, to use my knowledge and put my work into it, and to also share my knowledge with the young ones coming through.”
Ngāwari Homes is one of the sub-contractors engaged in the project. Owner Jack Pritchard is using the opportunity to start his own business and employ young Māori that have a willingness to learn a trade. “Having the promise of mahi through this project has given me the capability to start my own business and take on young apprentices. And who knows what the next adventure will be. I’ve been talking to kaumātua about papa kāinga housing options for whānau to get on their feet and save money for their own whare.”
One of the young apprentices at Prestige is Tia Craig, mother of three young tamariki. “I’ve been given the opportunity to increase my skills and gain a trade in painting and decorating through this project,” Tia says. “I’m loving this mahi and getting the chance to work at so many marae and give back to my own culture is really rewarding. It is such a good feeling; marae need a lot of work to help them last longer for us all”
“Our marae would never have had the funding or taken a very long time to be able to save up to afford these renovations,” says Waa Harris, from Houngarea Marae. This is a sentiment that has been repeated throughout the rohe. “We’ve had a renovation wishlist for a long time now, and it would not have been possible or would take many years to complete what is needed to uplift our marae,” adds Mary Martin and Rosey Hiha from Petāne Marae. “It has made such a difference to the marae and we are hoping that it brings back whānau as there is more to do. Our kaumātua are so appreciative of the work that has been done.”
Under the many trying circumstances of the past year Te Tū Marae has still managed to uplift marae, provide meaningful skills training and mahi for Māori, reconnect whānau, and futureproof marae for mokopuna to enjoy for years to come.
The Te Tū Marae ki Te Matau a Māui Steering Group is made up of Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui a Orotū, Te Puni Kōkiri, Hastings District Council and Prestige Limited.