Dawn blessing for wharekai site

Te Pūtahi-a-Toi acting head of school Professor Chris Gallavin(left), Hēnare Kani (Rangitāne), Dr Spencer Lilley, Manahi Paewai ( Rangitāne), Julia Taiapa, Pakaka Tawhai, Professor Huia Jhanke, Reupena Tawhai and Hone Morris.

Massey staff gathered for a dawn blessing ceremony last Friday morning on the Manawatū campus, representing another stage in the construction of a new wharekai at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, the School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education.

Rangitāne kaumātua Manahi Paewai conducted the ceremony, joined by Te Pūtahi staff, and others from the university. 

Te Pūtahi-a-Toi lecturer Julia Taiapa says, the growth of the department meant more dining space was needed. "It's another chapter for Māori Studies at the University. Previously, when guests were visiting they would have to travel down the hill to Wharerata for meals. This will allow us to keep everyone in one space and look after them, which will benefit everyone involved.”

The new facility will have a small commercial kitchen and will also act as an entertainment space for groups. Previously, there was space to hold about 50 people. The new facility will double that capacity.

One of the school's senior tutors and son of late Te Pakaka Tawhai, Reupena Tawhai, recalls visiting the department with his father and family when there was only a grass clearing where the carpark now stands. "My family has numerous connections to Massey and this is a space for all of us, not only as family of university staff or teachers ourselves, but as Māori and I want this to continue to be a family space where kids run around laughing and making noise, where we are not required to go to other parts of the campus to feed and entertain people.”

“Today is another step brought about by generations of people’s efforts. The University, and especially Māori staff have worked diligently to make this happen. It came about because of the recognition that to properly look after people we need the appropriate spaces, and the new building will be a valuable addition to this.

“It’s about tikanga and manaakitanga, creating an environment where our visitors and friends have the opportunity to be awesome. By taking care of the person we create a space where one can focus on being excellent without the concerns of daily necessities such as food, warmth, and comfort. It will support us and everyone here at the University to generate environments where potential is realised," he says. 

Dawn blessing.

Connect and support

The school's academic coordinator Hone Morris says the new wharekai will stand as a base to connect to and provide support to the mauri by providing hospitality to those who are welcomed to Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa through Te Pūtahi, and to all students and staff who wish to utilise the wharekai in the future.

“On behalf of the marae committee and te whānau whānui o Te Pūtahi-a-Toi I wish to extend our sincere thanks to all who provided their thoughts and guidance regarding discussion around this process and to our kaumātua, to Manahi Paewai for agreeing to conduct the blessing. I would also like to thank Scott Pearce and Keith Harvey from Facilities management for their unconditional support in this process.”

Massey alumna Roseanna Bourke attended the blessing. Her grandfather, Lawrence Bourke, who had Bourke Rd named after him, once owned a farm on the land where the new wharekai will stand.

The school provides an academic focus for Māori cultural, educational, social and economic development and is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The School complex was opened in 1997.

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