Orongomai Marae; people and events
Discussions had started in 1964. Fund-raising was started in the form of Housie; initially in private homes, and later in Silverstream Hall; in 1967 it was decided that two-thirds of takings should go into the marae fund, and one-third to the organizing groups; the Rimutaka Maori Committee and the Mawai Hakona Cultural Group.
Doctor Humphrey Rainey was approached in 1969 to assist in raising funds for a marae, and suggested the group get professional help. As a result, he wound up as chairman of the committee, according to a June 1984 article describing the reasons for his being awarded an OBE for services to the Maori community.
A major fund-raising event was a 1970 queen carnival.
The first site suggested was Trentham Memorial Park; the city council offered a one-acre (40-hectare) site on the corner of Ward Street and Fergusson Drive, but local residents objected.
An October-November Queen Carnival for a Community Centre was a major fund-raiser; the parade of 9 queens and 27 babies, all supported by businesses, started at Whakatiki Street, and passed along Main Street to King Street and then from Queen Street back to Main Street.
The current site on the corner of Park Street and Railway Avenue was bought in 1972.
A drawing of the proposed marae appeared in the 'Leader' on July 31, 1974, and a plan of the area on August 31.
The June 18, 1975 'Leader' reported that the Upper Valley Marae Community Centre Incorporated had raised $90 000, and the council was raising a $20 000 loan. Land had cost $1300, and the total cost was estimated at $115 000.
The 'Orongomai' name was announced in the 'Leader' on September 24, 1975.
The hall must have opened in February 1977; February and March dates apear on several photos taken in the completed building.
The November 9, 1982 'Leader' printed a picture of a Kotahitanga work-skill gang member erecting a fence, so that the kohanga reo could open (it had opened the previous week).
The May 10, 1983 'Leader' printed a picture of ground being levelled for the meeting house; by August 23, four steel portal frames were up.
The May 27, 1984 'Leader' printed an article on the meting house, which needed a final coat of paint and some drainage work; then carvings and tukutuku panels could be added. Doctor Rainey was pictured, and had written the article.
In the May 7, 1985 'Leader there was a picture of a taonga being carved by Jock McEwen; a retired pakeha civil servant who had been administering Maori and Pacific Island affairs at top level; he had been carving since 1926.
For Orongomai, he had been assisting and training a carving group, and it was hoped that the carvings would be in place within a year; the materials had been donated; either 'thrown up' by the Hutt River, or as old telegraph poles. Carving styles were not confined to local iwi's.
On May 22, Dr Rainey was pictured in front of the whare whakairo, which was ready for final painting and decoration; he wrote the accompanying article; the first of a series.
OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
One on June 5 described the use of modern materials in tukutuku panels. July 17's article listed the amenities; a 3000-square-foot / 280-square-metre hall suitable for wedding receptions or indoor bowls, and able to seat 200, and a 1000-square-foot / 93-square-metre supper room; the associated kitchens and toilets were suitable for numbers up to 200.
The November 25, 1986 'Leader' printed a picture of committee chairman Tom Johnson with some of the carvings being prepared under Jock McEwen's supervision; the carved house, Kahukura, was expected to open in October 1987, but according to a picture of Jock McEwen taken on Waitangi Day 1997, it had opened as late as 1989.
The August 18, 1987 'Leader' printed pictures of six unemployed girls on catering courses funded by Maori Access. All of them found work in the industry within nine weeks. Other courses on clerical skills and sewing, crafts and life skills followed.
In October 1987 Doctor Rainey proposed that an arts and craft sales unit be set up, so that skills learnt during the building could be maintained.
The whare whakairo was dedicated on May 22, 1989, with Sir Kingi Ikaka (knighted the previous day) officiating; pictures were printed in the May 30 'Leader'.
A women's health centre was opened on March 23, 1992.
July 24, 1995 'Leader'; the marae was negotiating to buy council houses at 5 and 7 Railway Avenue, and needed 2000 square feet of space for training their catering and hospitality students theory, and for office space. They were running secretarial, catering, and pathways to development courses.
The first 'official' open day was held on February 11, 1996; There had been an informal one in 1990, on the day of a Maidstone Park concert.
The kohanga reo wanted to expand in September 1999, and the city council allowed the marae to purchase the rugby club's entrance lane.
In February 2002 he council agreed that the marae purchase reserve land on the corner of Park Street and Railway Avenue, 1666 square metres, for $10 000; it had been leased in perpetuity. June 26; the council had decided to donate the land; it would revert to council ownership if it ceased to be used for marae purposes.
The January 5, 2005 'Leader' printed a picture of the marae's first four Bachelor of Matauranga Maori (Maori studies); the marae was one of 31 offering the programme, in conjunction with Te Wananga-o-Raukawa. There were two stages; 2-year diploma and four-year degree.
Orongomai Marae 1999; Kohanga Reo pioneer Hariata (Harriet) Jaspers, with special award from Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu.
Orongomai Marae 2000; school-children's weekend; Alexander Sparrow and Abigail Dawson, from Pinehaven.
Orongomai Marae 2000; whanau health promotion; Charmaine Matiaha with baskets of different food classes.
Orongomai marae 1989; whare whakairo dedication; Mawai-Hakona cultural group performs before service.
Fraser Crescent School; Hine Poa moves to teaching Maori, New Zealand Correspondence School, after 23 years.