Hihiaua Cultural Centre Stage 1 Opening

Construction of Stage one of Whangarei’s long awaited Hihiaua Cultural Centre will conclude this month.

The first stage of the project has included the renovation of the existing workshop and construction of a waka shelter and launching gantry into the Waiarohia River. Both facilities adjoin the Hatea Loop walkway on the Hihiaua peninsula and form the basis of what is to be a unique centre of Maori arts and cultural excellence.

While plans for the cultural centre have been developed over more than a decade. An injection of $1million from the new Government’s Provincial Growth Fund announced in February allowed the building project to go ahead. The grant, along with funding of $500,000 from the Whangarei District Council and $675,000 from Foundation North and ongoing support from Te Puni Kokiri, has brought the dream of a Hihiaua Cultural Centre alive.

The centre has been designed by Moller Architects and has been built by Whangarei company Arco Construction Ltd. Plans for Stage 2 are already underway. This will be an iconic building with an auditorium featuring an outdoor/indoor performance stage, a conference and events centre as well as exhibition and retail spaces.

The HIhiaua Cultural Centre Trust was established in 2008 to create an iconic centre of Maori arts and cultural excellence on the site ideally situated between the Hatea and Waiarohia Rivers. While the aim of the trust is the preservation and promotion of matauranga Maori through the reclamation, restoration and renewal of Maori arts and culture, the trust is committed also to creating an environment of experiential learning and cross-cultural understanding.

Stage one provides spaces for the creation of a variety of artistic and cultural pursuits as well as a laboratory for Maori science and technology projects, an exhibition and retail space as well as the waka shelter and launching facilities. A covered walkway will link both buildings and the public will be able to view activities and be invited to various events.
“The trust has worked long and hard to meet and overcome all the challenges along the way. We are finally able to say we are extremely excited to see this become a reality for the people of Tai Tokerau and our visitors. The public will be able to experience for themselves aspects of our unique and dynamic culture through meaningful interaction with our people, our language, arts and culture,” trust chairman, Richard Drake says.

“There is only one Hihiaua in the World and we hope our plans can exceed the expectations of all the people who have been involved in one way or another over the years.”

To celebrate this important milestone, the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust and Whangarei District Council have joined forces and will celebrate Whangarei’s largest Matariki event within the Hihiaua precinct to create a combined atmosphere of excitement and celebration.

Hihiaua Cultural Centre open day will run from 10am until 3pm and is a central part of the Whangarei District Council’s Matariki @ Hihiaua Festival. Highlights of the open day include inaugural art exhibition ‘Terenga Mai’ a showcase of world class traditional and contemporary Toi Maori. Interaction with and between artists and practitioners will also be a key feature of the Cultural Centre opening with weaving and carving demonstrations, live music and performances and other exciting activities in the innovative new spaces.

From 6-9pm the center will host the first in a series of Tohunga Talks will provide a more intimate experience with expert korero from local Tohunga on a variety of ancient and current issues affecting human existence on Papatuanuku.


For all enquiries and interview requests:

Emma Rankin
Contract Media & Communications Manager – Hihiaua Cultural Centre/WDC