Iwitea Marae, Te Wairoa

Iwitea has been with Awanuiārangi for nearly 10 years. It has changed everything for us. Our first programme was Community Education and it was about whakapapa. Right from the start we were getting 50 students to each wānanga – not just from Wairoa but from all over, including Auckland and Wellington. This initiative was long overdue: our families were drifting apart – the wānanga brought us back together.

Ever since then, our marae has been fully active with our people. Families moved away – but they are coming back now to Iwitea. Marae-based education has brought our community closer. Now all our Wairoa marae have clustered and we share wānanga, we’re all talking to one another, we all support one another, sharing our speakers from our pae to help each other, sharing our kaikaranga and kaiwaiata. Everything has changed, not just for our whānau and Iwitea, but for all our Wairoa marae. We now have close ties with one another. These are quite major changes. We also invite our pākehā farmers and their families to wānanga, and they come and enjoy them, especially the farmers’ wives. It breaks down the barriers.

Over 100 of us have gone through our marae-based education programmes, including Te Pouhono and the Bachelor of Mātauranga Māori. Eleven people from Iwitea have teamed up with whānau from Te Reinga Marae to study toward a National Certificate in Seafood Māori (Customary Fishing). Now we’re eyeing up environmental studies. We need to be ready to care for our waterways and our environment.

Our relationship with Awanuiārangi has been excellent. Over 10 years you develop a strong connection. The experience of education has given our people a lot. New skills, more confidence. The programmes have built up our capabilities. Most importantly, it’s brought our people back to us. Our people are able to teach at our wānanga now, and Iwitea has some of the youngest trustees in the Wairoa region. People are no longer standing back, they’re coming forward.

Photo: The Whānau from Iwitea Marae, Wairoa. Back (left to right): Pita Robinson, Nigel How. Front (left to right): Kelly Munro, Doris Nicholson, Lana Keil.

Photo: The Whānau from Iwitea Marae, Wairoa. Back (left to right): Pita Robinson, Nigel How. Front (left to right): Kelly Munro, Doris Nicholson, Lana Keil.