Ōwae Marae is located in Waitara, on the site of the ancient Manukorihi Pā. The marae’s kitchen and dining hall, named Ko Tamawāhine, will be demolished to make way for a fit-for-purpose replacement.
 
“We have responsibility for overseeing the infrastructure and whare of the marae, as well as looking after manuhiri, and maintaining connections for whānau. We hold many events throughout the year,” said Anaru White, Trustee of Manukorihi Pa Reserve Trust.
 
“Central to our marae is manaakitanga, or welcoming guests and whānau, and a big part of that comes from the wharekai. The wharekai is 100 years old and we realised this was not fit for purpose anymore.”
 
“It needed ongoing maintenance work, and had old equipment, like the gas hobs which were no longer compliant. It was hard to keep clean, and maintain hygiene standards. We could only host a certain number of people there for events and it was cramped out the back for the kaimahi.”
 
“Central to this was having whānau and hapu on board and getting a dedicated team together to seek funding to support the project.

Toi Foundation provided funding of $500k, which enabled the organisation to start the process of planning and building a new wharekai. The new wharekai will be built in 2022, in the same location and with a similar footprint to the existing one.
 
“When undertaking a large-scale project like this, based on the aspirations of whānau, we knew that we wanted to partner with organisations that have the same values. Support from Toi Foundation and the community has ignited the whole process for us. Other funders, like Oranga Marae and Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, were able to jump on board with their support.”

"Further funding is always needed for the marae, especially for such a huge project. Ōwae Marae is the main marae for Te Atiawa iwi, so it’s important to ensure we have that infrastructure in place. The marae is a civil defense post and we have visitors who come from all around the country too. The effects of this project stretch out wider into the community,” Anaru said.