One of the great things about getting to stay on different marae around the country is that by doing so you get to hear the history of the place in which you are staying. Darryn Russell, Director of Maori Development at the University of Otago, and tangata whenua of the area in which we were staying told us quite a bit about the whare that we were occupying this weekend.
The wharenui is called Tamatea and unlike most meeting houses is not carved. Certainly it appears that way from a distance but Darryn informed us that their meeting house is actually a replica cast from plaster on the interiors and concrete on the outside. This was done due to issues of cost (a cast whare requires less ongoing maintenance) and also due to a lack of master carvers available. The project of a new whare was started in 1940 as part of the centennial celebrations of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the building was completed in 1943. The casts were taken from a whare held at the Otago museum which had Ngati Porou origins. Ngai Tahu and Ngati Porou are both iwi who whakapapa back to two brothers, namely Tahu Potiki and Porourangi. It was decided that it would be alright to create a copy of a northern whare given these connections.
The marae complex also includes a church/museum in a similar style which is decorated with casts of painted rafter boards (kowhaiwhai) as well as woven tukutuku panels. I snapped a few pics of these for you to see since everyone will be in the throes of designing their 150th tukutuku panels now. Maybe you can get a little inspiration from the photos below