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Stunning contemporary artworks, weaving and carvings adorning the walls of NorthTec’s refurbished whare hui were admired by the crowds who turned out to Monday’s (7 December) dawn ceremony to rededicate the building.
Around 250 people, including NorthTec staff, students, and invited guests from the education sector and the community, attended the ceremony at Te Puna o Te Mātauranga marae complex on NorthTec’s Raumanga campus.
NorthTec Chief Executive, Paul Binney, described project manager, arts tutor and renowned artist, Kura Te Waru-Rewiri, as a “national treasure” who had led the creation of a beautiful, contemporary whare. Thanking all those who had contributed to the project, he said it was now a wonderful place to welcome new students and visitors to NorthTec.
He also thanked Tai Tokerau master carver, Te Warihi Hetaraka, for his guidance throughout the project and his work on the carvings at the front of the building.
NorthTec Chair, Vern Dark, paid tribute to former Deputy Chair, Erima Henare, who had been a prime mover in the plan for refurbishment of the whare before his sudden death in May.
Other speakers talked of the significance of Te Puna o Te Mātauranga and acknowledged NorthTec for completing the whare through the interior refurbishment.
Erima’s son Peni Henare, MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, spoke about the vision of those who had worked with NorthTec to establish the marae, and about the importance of continuing to work together for the benefit of the iwi and hapū of Tai Tokerau.
Danny Hauraki, kaumātua for Te Parawhau, reminded those in attendance about the long-standing links between NorthTec’s Raumanga campus and Te Parawhau, and the important role of the whare in unifying people.
The opening ceremony was followed by a festival to celebrate the day, featuring performances by local schoolchildren demonstrating their skills at kapa haka and Pacific dancing, and a routine from the Hardcore Hip Hop dance company.
The artworks in the whare, a modern take on the traditional koru design, were created by Kura Te Waru-Rewiri, fellow Māori Arts tutor, Lorraine King, and writer and artist, Michael Rewiri-Thorsen.
Te Warihi Hetaraka created the external carvings while NorthTec carving tutor, James Te Kuiti Stewart, along with NorthTec Māori Arts students, Michael Cameron and Kawiti Wiremu, and former Applied Arts student, Akara Maihi, contributed the carvings found inside the whare hui.
A large team of weavers, led by NorthTec weaving tutor, Te Hemoata Henare, produced the woven patterns for the walls.
Te Puna o Te Mātauranga (The Spring of Knowledge) marae complex was constructed and originally dedicated in 1991.