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Hihiaua Cultural Centre receives funding boost

31 October 2017

Hihiaua Cultural Centre receives funding boost

A $750,000 grant has been made from Foundation North, which brings the Hihiaua Cultural Centre’s vision of a unique, iconic centre of excellence devoted to Māori arts and culture a step closer.

“The total Hihiaua Cultural Centre project is aspirational and tremendous in its vision” said Foundation North Chief Executive Jennifer Gill. “It would simultaneously act as an anchor for the cultural background of the city, and a beacon which calls people to grow and experience Matauranga Māori in a contemporary setting.”

The grant will go towards project and building costs for the $2 million Stage One of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre on Hihiaua Peninsula in Whangarei. The Cultural Centre will be a focal point of both traditional and contemporary Māori arts and culture. Stage One includes remodelling of the existing carving shed into a Whare Toi, and construction of a new Whare Waka and specialised gantry for the storage, display and launching of waka.

Hihiaua Cultural Centre’s Chairman, Richard Drake said “The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust has worked closely with Foundation North as plans have developed over the past eight years and appreciates the investment Foundation North is making in Whangarei and Northland with this grant.”

Mr Drake continued, “The Hihiaua precinct, which includes He Puna Marama Trust and Te Kōpu, has become a focal point for authentic indigenous knowledge sharing, arts, culture and education. The Hihiaua Cultural Centre is at the heart of this development, and the rebuild will further enable the Trust to facilitate the increasing community demand for understanding of and participation in all aspects of Māori culture, while providing a site where Matauranga Māori can be practiced and passed on for the benefit of future generations. Resource and building consents have been secured and the work can begin as soon as the funding is in place.”

Trustee and project leader, Te Warihi Hetaraka, said the grant makes the realisation of the dreams and aspirations of elders and community leaders of the 20th century, to have a Māori cultural centre in Whangarei, a step closer.

“They passed the vision on to us and we have been working hard ever since to make it a reality - for there to be a vibrant Māori presence here. It has been a long process over the past decades to keep that vision alive, and actually progress the project to this stage,” he said.

The Foundation North grant sits beside $500,000 already committed to the project by Whangarei District Council. Part of the Foundation’s grant will provide capability and capacity-building to accurately confirm the Stage One costs and to strengthen the trust’s ability to raise the remaining funds required.


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