Monday, December 28, 2009

A Ngati Whatua Marae

It was pouring with rain the day I arrived in Dargaville in May this year. I was on the road, researching the 6th edition of the international travel guide Frommers New Zealand and always alert to spotting marae as I went. The Far North is well known for its rain and that day I had driven through torrential downpours all the way from Waipoua Forest. When I arrived in Dargaville itself, I hunted out the information centre and they very kindly gave me a list of all marae in the area – 20 of them in total; but all I had time for was this one.
Located just out of town, Te Houhanga Marae looked somewhat forlorn in the murky weather, its carvings covered in lichen, its lawns wet and soggy. The main wharenui (meeting house) is named Rahiri and it was built in 1914, Most of the carvings were completed by members of Ngati Porou on the North Island’s East Coast. There are waka (canoes) above each window – these in recognition of the two original canoes, Mataatua and Matawhaorua – that have a special significance to the local people. There was no chance of me getting inside the wharenui but I have since read that it is the oldest Ngati Whatua carved meeting house in North Auckland and its interior (and the whare kai) features some very good examples of early Maori figurative painting from the time of its construction.


  1. Hi there,
    I stumbled across this on the internet and this is actually the marae that I whakapapa to.
    The marae is 95 years old- celebrating its centenary in 2014.
    The wharekai has four contemporary murals on one of its walls which are representative of resources, stories and peoples of the local area.

  2. Many thanks for your's always lovely when someone adds some additional information to give a better picture of a place. Kia Ora. Adrienne

  3. Kia Ora,

    I too have very close whakapapa links to this marae, and the current Kaumatua of the marae is my grandfather. Please, let it be clear that the wharenui was carved by Te Aitanga a Hauiti, which is an iwi in it's own right. It is also the first carved meeting house in North Auckland after colonisation.

    It was exciting to have fouind this korero when I was actually looking for something else. Nice job

  4. Many thanks for adding some very interesting facts. Lovely.

  5. this is also my marae, since you last saw this marae we have had numerous working bees to restore our beloved to its former glory.
    please see link for more info

  6. Thanks for adding some more news and facts. Community and whanau spirit is a wonderful thing and it's good to know you marae will be 'gleaming anew' afer all your hard work.
    i look forward to calling by when I'm next in the Far North. Kia ora Adrienne

  7. kia ora toku whanaunga!

    Lovely to see so many people who whakapapa to te houhanga a rongo taking an interest.

    Nga manaaki



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