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The Hihiaua Cultural Centre is an idea whose time has come. A symbol of the process of mana motuhake — the restoration of mana for the tangata whenua — the people of this land.

Decades ago the Māori elders and leaders of Whangarei envisaged the restoration and advancement of our culture. They declared that Whangarei needed its own iconic Māori cultural centre to unleash the potential latent in their people, particularly our youth.

The Mayors and councilors of and since that time, have supported this project and incorporated it into their future planning. It is now identified as one of the top four growth priorities for Whangarei.

Young boys carving
Eastern Approach - Moller Architects
Young boys carving
Whakairo Workshop

The goal is to build a contemporary Māori precinct where people can live, learn, earn and play while rebuilding our cultural capacity and capability.

Te Tai Tokerau is seen as a key region for the development and advancement of Māori in education and business. We see ourselves as a key point in the Pacific triangle where we can take part in activities to restore the mauri and mana of the entire Pacific region.

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust's vision is for a unique and iconic, world class centre of excellence to preserve, create, display & promote Māori arts and culture.

Plans include a performance stage, conference centre & theatre, and an exhibition hall. Hihiaua can become the showplace for Māori entrepreneurs working with a variety of media, both traditional and contemporary.

Korowai and Kauri branch

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre has been identified as one of the top four growth priorities for Whangarei

— Sheryl Mai, Whangarei Mayor
Waka on the Hatea River, Whangarei
Waka on the Hatea River

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust, formed in 2008, has developed stunning architectural and landscape plans and obtained all the necessary consents for Stage 1.

Set between the Waiarohia and Hatea Rivers, the site has been reclaimed from the sea and gone from a boggy wasteland to a gem in the crown of Whangarei.

Development began with the opening of the award winning Waka and Wave Sculpture, and the Heritage Trail and Art Walk connecting the peninsula to the Town Basin. Te Matau ā Pohe and Kotuitui Whitinga bridges followed, opening up the popular Hatea Loop Walkway.

The first stage of the development will be renovation of the existing boatshed to include workshop, learning and viewing spaces, a specialist laboratory for marine and environmental research. Adjacent to the shed we will construct a waka shelter with launching gantry and a covered walkway.

Mother and child standing on beach
Women dressed for the Pasifika Fusion Festival
Pasifika Fusion Festival

While we raise the funds to begin the necessary up-grade and renovation of our existing leased space, there is always interesting stuff going on at Hihiaua:

The space is used daily as a whakairo workshop, where beautiful taonga are produced by trained and trainee carvers under the watchful eye of Tai Tokerau tohunga whakairo, Te Warihi Hetaraka.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa uses space for its whakairo classes. Groups of primary, secondary and tertiary students visit.

Hihiaua has been the site of three highly successful Pasifika Fusion Festivals which are now a firm, annual summer fixture in Whangarei to showcase the cultural richness of the region’s Pasifika communities.

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