Haere mai . . . Looking forward to welcoming the community to Te Whare Koa Marae on Waitangi Day are (clockwise from back left) treasurer Christine Hepi, chairwoman Rihi Salter, and Naitapu (10), Te Atawhai (7) and Raukura (4) Hepi. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Since it was established in 1982, Oamaru’s Te Whare Koa Marae has been a place for people of all iwi to stand and belong.

Over the past 40 years, the community has been welcomed to the marae for a variety of activities and cultural events.

But in recent years, the Te Whare Koa Marae Trust has been focused on the administration of the day-today operations of the marae and rebuilding, after much responsibility was placed on a select few to keep things going.

Kaitiaki pūtea (treasurer) Christine Hepi said with new trustees on board, and a renewed energy, the trust wanted to reconnect with the community and welcome people back into the marae.

And there was no better time to start than Waitangi Day, Mrs Hepi said.

On Sunday, from 10am to 2pm, the France St marae is hosting a waiata wānanga, a workshop for people to learn or practise waiata.

‘‘It’s just trying to get ourselves back out in the community,’’ she said.

‘‘So many people have forgotten, or didn’t even know, that we’re there.’’

The Waitangi Day workshop was open to everyone in the community — from people who could share waiata and knowledge with others, to those who knew nothing about waiata and wanted to learn more about Maori culture.

‘‘You don’t have to have to have something to bring, you can just come and listen.’’

It was the first of many events the trust hoped to hold at the marae this year.

Tiamana (chairwoman) Rihi Salter said for many Māori people, a marae gave them a sense of belonging, and was a place they could nurture their identity, self-confidence and pride in their culture.

The trust felt a great deal of responsibility to those who came before them, and to their tamariki (children), to revitalise Te Whare Koa Marae, keep traditions alive and make sure knowledge was not lost, Ms Salter said.

‘‘That knowledge needs to be passed on, otherwise we lose it,’’ she said.

‘‘We want to put our name out there — we’re here to support and help revitalise our culture.’’

Ms Salter’s mother, Georgie, was involved in the marae’s establishment in 1982.

Ms Salter said that connection was a key reason for her involvement, and she had enjoyed making connections with other Maori people in the community through the marae and through taking te reo Maori classes in Oamaru.

Due to the Red traffic light setting, registrations for the Waitangi Day waiata wānanga are essential.

For more information, visit the Te Whare Koa Community Marae Facebook page, and to register, contact Mrs Hepi on 027 513-2161.