Hundreds of whānau and the wider Motueka community gathered recently to celebrate a huge milestone in the housing journey of Te Āwhina Marae.
Published: Friday, 6 October 2023 | Rāmere, 06 Whiringa ā-nuku, 2023
The blessing and opening of the first four whare in a 20-home papakāinga took place on Saturday, 30 September.
Te Puni Kōkiri Hautū Regional Partnership & Operations, Grace Smit, said this was the largest papakāinga investment Te Puni Kōkiri had ever made.
“It was a very special opening, seeing the efforts this community has put into creating housing solutions that suit the needs of their own whānau.
“This papakāinga has been a 15-year journey for the whānau and is a part of their wider marae revitalisation and efforts to bring their people home,” Grace said.
This was also the first papakāinga Te Puni Kōkiri had supported within Te Tau Ihu, investing $12.774 million into the development through Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga funding.
Providing affordable rentals wasn’t new for Te Āwhina Marae whānau, as they had been providing affordable kaumātua housing since 1992.
Miriana Stephens, trustee for Te Āwhina Marae and chair of the Marae Redevelopment Project Team, said rental housing was desperately needed.
“Access to quality and affordable housing is a problem for our whānau and for many others in Motueka, in our region and across the motu.
“So to get to this point, where our first whānau-tenants are moving in, is an incredible feeling,” she said.
The marae revitalisation plan had accelerated in the past four years with the relocation of the kōhanga and health service buildings.
Whānau engagement co-ordinator, Rōpata Stephens, said he was looking forward to seeing whānau fill the homes.
“Once the houses are full, we’ll a have a large number of people here to service the marae. We’ll have reo speakers, reo teachers, kapa haka experts - we’re going to learn all of this and revitalise the reo and our identity.
“This is a place of wellbeing, where we come to be well and we remain well, collectively together,” Rōpata said.
The first four whānau tenants would move in at the end of October, with another eight moving in before Christmas and the final eight moving into their whare in February 2024.