The name of the new Rautahi Community Centre at Kawerau speaks for itself. It is the meeting-place and marae of the people of the ‘hundred tribes’ who have come to work and live at Kawerau, and who have thus been brought together as one people.
The building, which cost £15,000, was erected
mostly by voluntary labour. The supervisor was Mr Paul Delamere, aged 77, a retired builder. Mr Delamere (who is also the President of the Ringatu Church), was the sole fulltime voluntary worker on the project, though many others gave much of their time to the work.
A Very Handsome Building
It is a very handsome building, achieving in its design a particularly happy blend of Maori and Pakeha architectural traditions; the photograph published here of the interior of the building shows how very successful it has been in this respect.
‘Traditions Grow and Develop’
The opening ceremony, which took place a few months ago, was attended by many visitors from surrounding districts. After appropriate action songs and chants had been performed, speeches were made by Mr C. Hunia, a spokesman for Tuwharetoa who was also representing the Arawa people, Mr Paul Delamere, and Mr Eruera Manuera, a spokesman for the Ngati-Awa people and a representative of the Mataatua tribe. Tributes were paid by Mr C. B. Boyce, Mayor of Kawerau, and Mr P. B. Allen, the member for Bay of Plenty, to the qualities of self-help, enterprise and perseverance which had made the Centre possible; he was sure, Mr Boyce said, that it would achieve the purpose of preserving Maori culture, and that it would also be of extreme benefit to the district as a whole.
The Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon. J. R. Hanan, who took part in the opening ceremony, spoke in an address of the way in which traditions grow and develop. ‘You have decided’, he said, ‘that your need was for a modern community centre, rather than the carved meeting-house that is now regarded as traditional. In this type of building tradition is not discarded—rather, a new one has been forged’. Mr Hanan spoke of the success in which old and new traditions had been combined in the building, and referred to the rapidity with which the district is developing. ‘Already, I understand, there is an urgent demand for such a building. In the future the need will be even greater.’
In Memory of the Fallen
After this a dedication service was performed in both Maori and English, by the Rev. Wharetini Rangi and the Rev. Arthur Dickie respectively. Mr Hanan was then led to the door of the new hall by Miss Julie Rauwhero, who presented the Minister with the key. Entering the building with Mr and Mrs M. Delamere, Mr Hanan unveiled a plaque in memory of the fallen of two world wars.
After the ceremony was over one thousand people sat down to luncheon.