Friday, January 21, 2011

Discovering Maketu

It was a brilliantly sunny morning when I discovered the tiny coastal settlement of Maketu in the North Island's Bay of Plenty for the first time last year. Although I spent my childhood visiting Bay of Plenty beaches, I'd never been to Maketu before. I fell in love in an instant. There was just something about the place - an intangible sense of familiarity and belonging that had me thinking I could happily live there.
As I drove into the village, I stopped outside the Whakaue Kaipapa Marae (Te Arawa iwi), which is a lovely complex perfectly located on the shores of the estuary (see lower image). It was a hive of activity as a group of men wheeled barrow loads of soil and busily hammered their way through a working bee.

Whakaue Kaipapa was opened in May 1928. It is said to be one of the first efforts of the Maori School of Arts and Crafts at Rotorua. When it was built there were no carvings inside the wharenui and that's still the case today. The wharekai, which has been rebuilt three times (most recently in 2001), is called Rangiuru, who was the first wife of Whakaue. There are also two delightful Maori churches in Maketu, which I've featured in an earlier blog.

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