Upper Hutt Multicultural Council (UHMCC) is so proud and thankful of their relationship with Orongomai Marae. It is a space and whanau deeply cherished by UHMCC, where the korero is honest, and the work happens only after three questions have been answered:
- Ko wai au? (Who am I)
- Ko wai koe? (Who are you)
- Ko wai mahi tahi tatou? (Who are we together)
Orongomai Marae nestles into the base of the southeastern hills of Upper Hutt, standing proudly on the corner of Park Street and Railway Ave.
Ko Remutaka te maunga
Ko Awa Kairangi te Awa
Ko Orongomai te Marae
If you went to primary school in Upper Hutt, as a tamariki of any background, you would remember writing this out as you learnt your pepeha. As New Zealand’s first multicultural Marae, Orongomai belongs not to a specific iwi, but to all the peoples of Upper Hutt.
UHMCC first made touch with Orongomai in 2006, when current chair, Pancha Narayanan, knew that a Multicultural Council could not just engage recent migrant communities alone, and went to visit the local mana whenua. Who would have known that the korero over a cup of tea and a biscuit was to such national breakthroughs in race relations, sense of belonging and welcoming for recent migrants, and the journey together toward Tiriti-based Multicultural communities.
Orongomai has, in the 16 years since that first meeting:
- Attended many UHMCC meetings in the form of the beloved UHMCC kaumatua, Mohi Waihi
- Held very moving noho marae for migrant communities with the purpose of sharing stories of belonging and culture, and cultural taonga such as poi and raranga
- Hosted the Federation of Multicultural Councils whanau many times
- Had multicultural performances at their Waitangi Day celebrations
And so much more that shows they are a multicultural Marae to their heart. UHMCC and Orongomai have passed through hard times and high times together, as all true friendships do.
Do not underestimate the magic of the Marae. It is a place where walls come down, hearts open, and wairua flows through our words and interactions freely. If treated with the respect it deserves, it is a powerful, catalytic place, where one can slow down, be truly present, break bread with one another, and let the spirit of the community flourish far beyond the boundaries of the Marae. This is our experience with Orongomai, one we will continue to protect and treasure as we go forward. We hope you find the same in your rohe.