‘We are the mokopuna our tīpuna have been waiting for’

Whānau of Mangaroa Marae are gathering in the Hawke’s Bay settlement of Bridge Pa over Easter weekend to celebrate the marae’s 40th anniversary.

One of the uri of Ngāti Rāhunga i Te Rangi, Thompson Hokianga, said it was a dream of the community to establish a marae.

He was four years old at the opening of the marae on 31 March 1984. Both his great uncle and grandfather served as marae chairman and were instrumental in getting things over the line.

“When your grandfather is the chairman of the marae, all us kids and mokos were deeply embedded into the operations of the marae. The whole manaakitanga values and kotahitanga values and all those values that mean so much to enable the marae to operate were embedded in us not through understanding but through action.”

It was important to pull the iwi back together again and remind them of memories that have been dimmed over time, Hokianga said.

“It’s been a long time coming for our marae. Rather than just a celebration, there’s something a lot more profound in this whole process, and part of that is rekindling the fires of our tīpuna that initially had the dream to build a marae to serve our people.”

Hokianga said the weekend would be full of activities and kai, including time to reminisce and recognise the old people of the marae who have passed away.

Whānau were also encouraged to bring along their signature dishes for a hapū potluck.

The marae was looking towards the next 40 years and beyond - part of that was having a plan in place to fulfil the aspirations of the hapū, Hokianga said.

“It’s around the reclamation of our reo, it’s around the reclamation of our rangatiratanga and where we feature in iwi entities and Māori entities moving forward, both on a regional and a national level. It’s all of that and making sure our whānau are supported in their aspirations.”

The plan may change, but those aspirations will always stay the same, with the hope of inspiring the uri of the marae to look to the future while remaining grounded as members of a hapū and the marae, Hokianga said.

“We are doing a reasonably good job, and I think our tīpuna would be proud and we have to take a step back and remember that we are the mokopuna our tīpuna have been waiting for.”