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Hāpu Connectedness Project - Rengarenga Marae

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posted on 17.11.2022, 21:11 authored by Suzanne Aroha Collins

 Marae (meeting place) are unique to Aotearoa New Zealand, but  specifically to Māori culture. They embody ancestors and Māori consider  them as tāonga (treasures). They are commonly on hapū (sub-tribe) and  iwi (tribe) turangawaewae (place to stand) and equally important, they  are central to Māori identity. To have a turangawaewae means having a  place to stand, to belong and connect to that place. The dilemma for  Ngāti Mōtai is that we do not have a marae, a place to stand and as a  result, a vital part of our identity is missing.

Based on semi-structured interviews with descendants of Ngāti Mōtai and  complemented with historical narratives derived from Treaty settlement  documentation, this thesis explores the history of the traditional marae  of Ngāti Mōtai, Rengarenga Marae, and its people. In doing so, I intend  to contribute to hapū aspirations to collate information about the  original marae in order to begin rebuilding our marae and  re-establishing our identity as a hapū of Rengarenga Marae.    

This research has found that actions of the Crown in the 1880s resulted  in Ngāti Mōtai being wrongfully dispossessed of customarily owned land,  in particular, Whaiti Kuranui 6C2C West A which contained significant  cultural and historic sites, including Rengarenga Marae. The partition  of Whaiti Kuranui in the 1880s ultimately led to the alienation of  Whaiti Kuranui 6C2C West A and the separation of Ngāti Mōtai from  Rengarenga Marae.    

Ngāti Mōtai are currently planning the rebuild of the marae, albeit not  on the original site but on ancestral Ngāti Mōtai land. The Ngāti Mōtai  vision for Rengarenga Marae is “A puna (spring) from which to grow” and  encapsulates a foundation stone where the mauri (life force) of the  marae is kept safe and warm and will provide a turangawaewae for the  generations to come. Whānau (family) and hapū are critical to this  transformation. 

However, at present, the rebuild is largely  uncoordinated.    This thesis suggests that by drawing on marae/hapū-based projects from  other regions there is scope for increased cohesion and collaboration  amongst the hapū in order to develop innovative strategies. The  aspirations that we hold for our marae can be achieved by a  community-based approach. 


Copyright Date



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains All Rights

Degree Discipline

Māori Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Māori Studies : Te Kawa a Māui


Bargh, Maria