June 21, 2019
Northland opening to culture and tourism
One of the people behind a new Māori cultural centre for Whangārei says it is a dream that has taken more than 30 years to reach fruition.
The first stage of Hihiaua Cultural Centre will open tomorrow to coincide with Matariki celebrations.
A $1 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund was used to renovate an existing workshop and construct a waka shelter and a launching gantry into the Waiarohia River, complementing other facilities on the site.
Tohunga whakairo Te Warahi Hetaraka says the idea for a centre on the peninsula was first raised in the 1980s, when the region's kaumātua were consulted about redevelopment of the Whangārei Town Basin.
It came up again in 2003 when he did the Waka and Wave sculpture on the peninsula with sculptor Chris Booth.
"At the unveiling the elders laid down the challenge again – 'OK, we have just unveiled the anchor, where is the real waka?' They instructed me to identify a group of people who can push this kaupapa forward," Mr Hetaraka says.
Northland celebrated another Provincial Growth Fund milestone today, the opening of the new Bay of Island Airport terminal by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
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