Green Bay High School was the first school in New Zealand to have a Marae built onsite!
In 1977 Mr Pat Heremaia asked Mr Des Mann if it would be possible to build a marae at Green Bay High School. Mr R Kohere and Mrs W Makiri, two Maori teachers at Green Bay High School, assisted with the planning of converting a standard prefab building into a wharenui. Approval of the project was given by the Principal (Des Mann) and the Board of Governors in October 1978.
A parent/teachers meeting was called on 15th September 1978 to form the Te Roopo o Kakariki Marae Incorporated Society to facilitate management and to co-ordinate activities at the marae.
Elders were sought as advisors to the project: Mr Tom Poata (Ngati Porou), Mr Hoani Heremaia, and Mr Sonny Waru (Taranaki), the late Mr Ereuera Stirling (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) and Mr Hone Peeni (Ngati Hine) and Mrs Oriwa Grace (Tainui).
A delegation from the society visited Ngati Whatua, the tangata whenua (local residential tribe) of the Auckland region to seek their approval for the establishment of the marae in their area. The late Mr Tommy Downe, Te Puru O Tamaki, granted this on behalf of Ngati Whatua.
The Education Department granted two prefabs towards the project on the 6th of November 1978. A Wharenui, Wharekai, and kitchen were established. The marae capitalised on the Temporary Employment program scheme of the Labour Department to employ a carpenter and two labourers to renovate the prefabs.
In May 1979 a letter was written to the Minister of Forestry requesting totara logs for carvings for the wharenui. The marae paid $2000 for the timber. Tom Poata, Pat Heremaia and Ra Kohere, went to Te Murumurunga Marae in Te Whaiti on 14th November 1980 to fell the totara trees. The Tuhoe people assisted with the rituals.
In 1980 two more prefabs were requested. One for teaching Māori, the other for making tukutuku and mahi whakairo. The Education Department granted one and the school permitted use of another.
In 1981 Archbishop Paul Reeves, and elder Mr John Turei, from Tuhoe, conducted the ceremony to powhiri (welcome) the totara timber from Whirinaki onto the marae and to bless the timber.
In 1982 Work Skills development programs were begun for tukutuku, powhaiwhai and carvings. Twelve school leavers were employed for this program; as well as a scheme manager, a carving tutor, and a tukutuku tutor.
In 1983 a prefab and relocatable toilets were requested from the Education Department to establish a Te Kohanga Reo. Both were granted and Mrs Judy Cooper was appointed supervisor. Two other supervisors were appointed and 16 children started.
Mr Morgan Peeni was appointed Schemes Manager and his father Mr Hone Peeni as kaumatua and chairman of our Marae Tribunal. The school marae became an official Māori committee with representation on the Auckland Māori District Council.
The marae was established in the school for the following reasons:
- to introduce ‘taha Māori’ (Māori perspectives) into our education system
- to reinenforce language studies with practical lessons and Māori and other Polynesian arts and crafts.
- to develop and foster the use of the marae as a centre for living and experiencing marae community activities and to develop sensitivity in the general community to Māori and Polynesian values.
- to introduce marae etiquette and to foster the use of the marae as an education resource centre for Māoritanga.
- to provide a valuable social and cultural centre for students, staff and parents during school and after school hours.
- to develop and foster adult day and evening classes for teaching Māori language, customs, carvings arts and crafts.
- to develop and foster the use of the marae is a venue for meetings or functions of cultural, welfare and other activities for community groups.
- to encourage Māori and Polynesian parents to take more interest and the education of their children and to come to school to participate in pupil/parent/teacher functions.