New Centre at Rotorua
National Publicity Studios photographs
Kapa Ehau, now confined to a wheelchair, but still one of the silver-tongued orators of Ngati Whakaue
Mataatua marae, Rotorua, was crowded for the opening of the ‘Aroha a te Arawa’ dining hall and community centre on 8 March.
The new building was opened by the member of parliament for Eastern Maori, Mr P. Reweti, and dedicated by Rev. H. Tangohau of Gisborne and Rev. W. P. Foster of Northland.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a movement was initiated by the Tuhoe people for the Maori Land Court to set aside an area of land for a marae reservation in Rotorua. The area now called the Mataatua marae was made avilable by the original owners, Ngati Whakaue, a branch of the Arawa tribe.
The name of the hall, ‘Aroha a te Arawa’, acknowledges the gratitude of the Tuhoe people to the Arawa people for the gift of the land on which the hall stands.
Development of the area has been going
All who can trace their descent from the Mataatua canoe are welcome to stay on the marae. These include the Ngai te Rangi tribe of Tauranga, the Tumoe people, and several groups from Whakatane, Opotiki, and Tuhoe areas.
The Hall cost $16,000, half of which was raised by the Tuhoe people of the Urewera district, and half given by government subsidy through the Department of Maori and Island Affairs.
Hosts at the Mataatua Pa were the Tuhoe, Ngatiawa and Whakatohea people, and entertainment was provided by the Ruatoki Concert Party and a group from Auckland. A social and dance was held in the evening.
During the official opening, a most unusual occurrence for modern times was the challenge given to the Mataatua people by the Arawas over the naming of the new centre. However, after several speeches and some heated exchanges, the matter was satisfactorily resolved and the explanations accepted. Honour had been maintained, and hosts and guests then settled down to thoroughly enjoy the occasion.