WelCom September 2019:
Over 70 Victoria University architecture students visited Te Kāinga Catholic marae in Kilbirnie, Wellington, to carry out a course assignment for costing the repairs of seismic strengthening the building.
The students were welcomed to Te Kāinga in a pōwhiri, which for some students was their first experience of being welcomed formally onto a marae.
Professor of Architectural Science Regan Potangaroa is assisting the Kaitiaki committee of Te Kāinga to find solutions to the earthquake strengthening issues the building faces.
‘Buildings are not just bricks and mortar’, he told the students. ‘They have a heart and soul, and a purpose in the community.’
Professor Potangaroa said he wanted the students to help in the work of finding solutions for a building that has become home for many in the Māori Catholic community of Wellington South.
‘The aim is to identify something that will satisfy the engineering requirements but can be done with community muscle.’
Te Kāinga has been formally closed since an earthquake assessment in 2012. The community now celebrates Miha Māori – Mass in Te Reo Māori – at the Home of Compassion Chapel, Island Bay; but a wide range of essential activities including hosting tangihanga, wānanga and te reo Māori classes have stopped.
Professor Potangaroa said the building is important for Māori in Wellington ‘and for all those folks – tūpuna – on the back wall’. He said understanding the value of a building to a community is not really something students can learn in a classroom.
Te Kāinga is one of many marae he is assisting, which are facing an uncertain future.
‘It’s a whole cultural heritage. This is what architecture is all about.’