In celebration of Maori Language Week, we will be launching a monthly post bringing you updates and happenings from Poihakena marae. Watch this space for future events, news and people profiles.
For over 50 years Poihakena has served as a focal point for the local Maori community. Currently affiliated with around 700 whanau members, the marae also serves many local groups such as schools, health groups and sports clubs for catering, venue use, and huis.
On the initial construction and development of the marae, Kaumatua Paddy Kaa recalls, “back then it was a real community effort, all the joinery was made at the night school with Tex. The wharenui was built in 1962 and I remember, Wetini nailed all the floorboards in that room – and he was totally blind.”
Although the marae is a place of cultural significance to the Maori people, marae treasurer, Val Rippey emphasises that their doors are open to everybody in the community. “We have a lot of foreigners coming here, and they grasp the concept really well, I think it can be intimidating going into an environment where you’re unsure of the culture,” says Val.
Kaumatua Rangi Kereopa also notes that the marae is a place where anybody in the community can bring their loved ones to rest as well as to celebrate marriages.
Poihakena has many visitors going through the marae including travellers, musicians, surfers and more recently, the NASA astronauts. “We like to think that we’re the right people to welcome visitors to our town and once we welcome them they are a part of us,” says Paddy.
Spotlight: Whanau Ora Day
On Sunday 19th of June Poihakena opened its doors to welcome the wider community to the whanau ora or family health and well-being day. The day was a success with health service providers from all over the Waikato region giving advice to locals.
Maori perspectives on health and well-being can often differ from western views and having the health professionals come to the marae created a safe and comfortable atmosphere for people to ask questions about their health. “The doctor’s were overwhelmed by the men asking questions, especially asking about what to look for in prostate cancer and those sorts of things,” says Val Rippey. Health service providers that attended included: Sport Waikato, Smoking Cessation, West Coast Health, Auahi Kore and others.