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Te Tūhunga Rau opens: new name, new artwork

March 1, 2023

Media release first published by Wellington City Council ...

Serving the Strathmore Park community since the 1950s, the basic wooden building at 108 Strathmore Ave has been officially blessed today after a major upgrade thanks to investment by Wellington City Council.

The centre, which is overseen by the Strathmore Park Community Centre Trust, hosts events, activities and services that enrich its community. The upgrade features a stunning new artwork and name – Te Tūhunga Rau.

The upgrade began in 2020 and has been developed in partnership with community centre staff, board members and the Trust’s Te Rōpū Māori (Māori group). The design is by Etch Architecture who also worked with local Mana Whenua artist Pokau Te Ahuru (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ātiawa, Ngāruahinerangi) on a key element of refurbishment, the exterior screens.

Pokau (pictured above) designed He Kura Tipua, He Kura Kairangi – a sacred phenomenon, a treasure of high esteem – the screens that adorn the front of the building. Based on tukutuku patterns and principles, it pays homage to the different iwi who once occupied Motu Kairangi. Chair of Strathmore Park Community Centre Trust Simon Bowden says the artwork also symbolises the community coming together.

Te Ātiawa Iwi Chair Kura Moeahu, provided the pūrākau (origin story) regarding the formation of the land, the history of Te Motu Kairangi (Miramar Peninsular) and surrounding areas, meanings and values attributed to manu and other inhabitants from the area.

Kura says inspiration for the name – Te Tūhunga Rau – came from the symbolism of manu (birds) who lived, and in some cases still live, on Te Motu Kairangi and refers to the arrival of many peoples to the area through the centuries.

E koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū

“The tūī chatters, the parrot gabbles,

the wood pigeon coos.

(A saying for “It takes all kinds…”)

“Tūhunga can be translated as a roost or a perch of birds or a place to stand.  Rau can be hundred or alternatively the feathers of birds. So, metaphorically Te Tūhunga Rau can be translated as The Place of a Hundred Perches or Where feathers find a place to stand.

“What this means is Te Tūhunga Rau is a place where the manuhiri (birds looking for a place to settle) or visitors of various iwi from around the world that make our community home, can come and find a place to make their own while celebrating who they are in their own special way.”

This notion of a place where people gather from many backgrounds are welcomed, nurtured and share values is grounded in Te Ao Māori principles.

Councillor Sarah Free welcomes the new name and says it represents a place where everyone is welcome.

“This site has been the beating heart of the community for decades, where people meet, engage, learn, share, support, and enjoy kai and korero together.

“That will continue with the beautifully upgraded Te Tūhunga Rau for all members of the community – and future generations to come.”

Construction on the $2.2 million upgrade began in March 2022, with the upgrade increasing functionality, usability and safety. A new floor, kitchen, better storage, improved subfloor drainage, improved insulation and landscaping have also been added. 

Keep an eye on the website for upcoming events to celebrate the new space.