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Historic Waitara marae looks to the future with help from NPDC marae fund

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Historic Waitara marae looks to the future with help from NPDC marae fund

One of Taranaki’s most historic and important sites, Owae Marae at Waitara, is entering a new era with some help from NPDC’s marae funding.

A $55,000 grant from the our Marae Development Fund has helped put a new roof over Owae’s main meeting house, Te Ikaroa-a-Māui, which houses a collection of hand-carved wooden taonga that are about 90 years old.

The funding follows an $80,000 grant from the fund last year to help pay for the design and planning of a new wharekai kitchen and dining hall to replace the aging wharekai Ko Tamawahine which first opened in 1921.

Owae, the central marae for Te Atiawa iwi, is managed by the Manukorihi Pā Reserve Trust charity and trustee Anaru White said it plays a valuable role as a social and cultural hub in the Waitara community and beyond.

“We rely on whanau support and sometimes you just need that boost from funding.  It was a great help to us to keep things moving.  Owae Marae is vital to the health and well-being of our community as a place for gathering and learning.  It hosts events of local and national significance and it’s also a Civil Defence post,” said Mr White.

As more uri (descendants) returned to Waitara, the hapū were becoming more involved in the wider community, including future capital projects and the restoration of the Tangaroa Stream, he said.

Waitara has been moving forward since the Waitara Lands Act took effect in 2019 and the partnership between NPDC and tangata whenua benefited everyone.

“Leaseholders have bought the land on about 450 of the 770 leasehold properties and the proceeds will soon start flowing through to the community, so Owae Marae and Waitara are growing together as more people have a stake in the town’s future,” said NPDC Community Partnership Lead Callum Williamson.

The new roof will protect the treasured woodwork in Te Ikaroa-a-Māui wharenui after the old roof had started to let in the elements.

The building has hosted prime ministers, Kingitanga and other foreign and New Zealand dignitaries and attracted about 10,000 people, including Māori King Koroki, then Prime Minister Joseph Savage, former Prime Minister Joseph Gordon Coates, and future Prime Minister Peter Fraser, when it first opened in 1936.

Marae can apply for NPDC development grants to help with projects such as building work, health, safety and hygiene, and accessibility improvements.

Find out more about NPDC’s Marae Development Grant, insurance funding for marae and grants to help with the care of urupā and to help iwi and hapū take part in resource and consent processes on



  • NPDC distributes around $3M to the community annually through more than 20 grants, including the Marae Development Fund

10 marae have received Marae Development Grant Funds over the past six years.