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Funding decision may open up marae- kei tūpono noa!

Funding decision may open up marae- kei tūpono noa!

Waipapa Marae Trust expects to hear shortly whether the trust funding application for the final stage of the Infrastructure Rebuild is successful.  Either way, Trust Chair, Cath Holland says the funding decision may well enable the trust to open up the marae sooner than anticipated.  

 “Nailing government funding for the specific upgrade of any marae infrastructure is a challenge for all marae trusts and Waipapa is no exception.  Funding agreements come with conditions but we'll endeavour to see whether we can work within the contractual agreement."

Cath is retrospective about government funding.

“The pool of infrastructure funding is limited especially since we’ve taken a large cut out of the government coffers already,” says Cath.

To date, she confirms the Waipapa Marae Trust has already secured funding for:

  1. A new wharekai
  2. New toilets and showers for Taku Hiahia
  3. Water sprinklers and fire alarms for Taku Hiahia to meet insurance regulations
  4. Sewage and wastewater system

Cath says as the trust awaits the results of the next funding round expected in a fortnight, it’ll give marae beneficiaries a clear picture of the year ahead.

In the meantime, she expects the builders to finish off the installation of the sprinkler system.  

“In spite of inclement weather, the builders are all but finished.  Everything else is done and dusted.  However, our aim is to move straight on with Stage Three of the infrastructure rebuild in order to:

  1. Build new storage spaces for mattresses and pillows in both wharenui.  Stacking mattresses and pillows in the middle of wharenui is a health hazard.  Furthermore, the idea of carrying mattresses on your back from one wharenui to another is also a redundant exercise.  There's no need for it when we can have storage space built into each wharenui complex. 
  2. Refurbish the toilets and showers at Ngā Tai Whakarongorua.  This upgrade is long overdue for obvious health and safety reasons
  3. Build a new enclosed entrance from the wharenui to the new toilets. This addresses a serious fire safety risk/issue identified by 

    Fire and Emergency NZ.  The design solution provides ramp access for those who are mobility impaired, and the provision of a covered entranceway connecting to the refurbished ablution block is an improvement, many will welcome and appreciate.  FENZ also identified a second exit from the wharenui was required in the case of fire.

  4. Pull out the roots and trees from the memorial garden growing under the ablution block and replant them on location.  The roots have grown under the ablution block interfering with plumbing which has obvious consequences as we look to upgrade the toilets and showers

But this all depends on whether we get the funding. 

If we don’t get the money,  we will re-open the marae and delay the infrastructure rebuild for Ngā Tai until we secure funding elsewhere.”

However, if the trust funding application is successful, Cath indicates the preference is to push on with the infrastructure rebuild around Ngā Tai and get everything done while the marae remains closed. 

“There is a third option, however, and that is to completely cordon off Ngā Tai during the rebuild that may allow us to open up the marae at the same time.  But it will have to meet health and safety standards which will come at a cost that hasn’t been budgeted for in the annual plan this year nor has it been included in the current funding application.” 

That aside, Cath says, if we’re successful with our funding application, the trust will consider both options; to cordon off the build around Ngā Tai and open up the marae or keep the marae closed during the build.

“The trust is aware the marae has been closed for too long.  While this has largely been due to Covid, having success with our funding applications motivated the trust to get on with the job and upgrade the broken marae infrastructure while the government put restrictions on social gatherings.”

Cath confirmed our wharepaku, our showers, and our sewage and drainage systems have all been in breach of health and safety standards. 

“Ultimately, the trustees have been liable over the years.  But times have changed and our marae trust could no longer ignore such breaches to our health and safety standards.”

She adds the lack of fire emergency equipment was also out of step with our marae insurance for many years.

“We’re fortunate our insurance is covered under the Waikato Tainui Marae Insurance policy. We couldn’t do this on our own.”

Cath also points out the need to have a hygiene plan around food prep.  She says Covid has had a huge impact on marae gatherings, especially poukai and tangihanga.  Covid has been a wake-up call for all social gatherings.  

“This year was an extraordinary year for our poukai, where health and safety were both front of mind for trustees on two specific levels. 

Firstly, the entire marae was legally defined as a construction zone with health and safety standards applied because of the infrastructure rebuild of Taku Hiahia.  This meant the marae was completely out of bounds to everyone.  However, we worked closely with our building company ASAP who eventually agreed to allow no more than 12 people on the marae for the poukai with no access to wharekai facilities and reduced access to hire pool portaloos.  Waipapa has never missed a poukai and this allowed the marae to celebrate the poukai on March 12 with restrictions specifically set in place for 12 people only.      

Secondly, the health and safety of our King and our pakeke was paramount while the country was under the red traffic light system for COVID, lest we forget.  It was extraordinary to only have ‘tekau mā rua’ at the poukai but that was tikanga kicking in to resolve Covid restrictions and keep 12 people restricted to a specific area in front of Ngā Tai because the marae was deemed a construction site. 

I fear Covid is here to stay. 

But that shouldn’t stop us from planning to live with it especially at poukai time, even when the marae is off-limits because of the rebuild.  But as we look towards bringing back our poukai as we know it, we must plan for it and keep everyone safe with health and safety standards uppermost in our planning.”

Cath believes our marae committee are key, especially for important events like tangihanga and poukai. 

“It’s time to plan towards bringing tangihanga back to Waipapa as soon as we can open the marae for our whānau.  We have all lost family members during a Covid lockdown where we couldn’t have their tangi at Waipapa because of restricted numbers or Waipapa being closed due to the current rebuild.” 

Cath says if we can cordon off the infrastructure rebuild around Ngā Tai, the plan would be to open up the marae but there will be temporary constraints to deal with to make it work because Ngā Tai is where we have our tangihanga.

"If whānau want to use the marae for tangi under these circumstances, they will need to provide a solid tent for their tūpāpaku and whānau pani because Ngāi Tai will be out of bounds.  However, this will only be a temporary measure if we’re funded for the final stage of our infrastructure rebuild. I believe it’s possible to open our marae while we push on with the final stages of our infrastructure rebuild cordoned off, if we work together.” 

Cath says Taku Hiahia will also be off-limits for a short while to build the new storage area for mattresses and pillows as well as renew exterior cladding on the wharenui. 

“The remaining work to Taku Hiahia is a 3-month project so Taku Hiahia could be fully operational by mid-October.  The work to Ngā Tai Whakarongoarua on the other hand is a 9-month project that will take the build out to May / June of next year."

Both works are of course dependent on funding.  But Cath hopes this will give our beneficiaries a view of the practicalities the trust is dealing with at the moment in trying to open up the marae earlier than anticipated.  

"The trust will endeavour to work alongside the builders to see whether the third option is feasible.  But at the end of the day, health and safety standards are paramount and the builders will make that call, not the trust.”

But weather permitting, Cath says Stage Two should be finished shortly. 

“Critical is that we’ll have water sprinklers!  This will mean we won’t be restricted to only sleeping 40 people in Taku Hiahia.  We will now be back up to sleeping in a full house.  The new sewage and wastewater system means we won’t have to bring in a plumber from Te Awamutu to fix blocked drains every time we have a hui.” 

Cath concludes the trust will come back to beneficiaries as soon as we hear about the final tranche of funding due out shortly. 

"Whatever, the funding outcome is, the trust agrees, we will open the marae with a hakari where we can come together for the first time in two years to share kai in memory of our whānau members who passed in that time."

Ngā manaakitanga  

Cath Holland

CHAIR

Waipapa Marae Trust  

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