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The "Kahungunu Memorial Wharewhakairo" was built as a monument to the men from the Nuhaka-Mahia district who served their country in the two major World Wars and succeeding wars.

Originally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) discussed with local Church leader, Sidney Whaanga Christy, the plan to erect a recreation hall to be named for respected early Mãori Church convert, Hirini Te Rito Whaanga, son of lhaka Whaanga a Paramount chief of Rakaipaaka.

The hall would be an acknowledgement of the district church members and friends who had sponsored the Annual Easter Church Conference over the five war years "Ngã Tau e Rima" However, due to government building restrictions after the Second World War, close friend of Sid Christy, the National Mãori M.P. Sir AT Ngata proposed building a Mãori Carved House as a war memorial. Returning servicemen of Rakaipaaka/Kahungunu would train in the art of carving and have employment. This was agreed to and Master Carvers Pine and John Taiapa who had established the Mãori Carving School in Rotorua, were employed to teach the tikanga and skills of the kaiwhakairo.

As a Whare Tipuna, which would house many Aotearoa chiefs of renown, it was fitting that the building be named for the great chief Kahungunu from whom the name of the major tribe of the area from Uawa to the Wairarapa is derived. The Mormon Church paid all expenses, building materials, tutors, carpenters, carvers, and other employees.

An interesting story arises due to the strong anti-American, anti-Mormon sentiments which followed the war years. The Totara which would be used for all the carvings was donated by members of the Davies family in Pipiwai, North Auckland. The family had a large stand of totara on their farm. To ship the timber out for processing in Auckland, they would have to cross a County Council bridge in the area. As mentioned the anti-American, anti-Mormon sentiment was very strong in the area and some influential people sent a submission to the local Council to have the bridge condemned so the timber could not leave the area. A sympathiser on the Council advised the Davies family that they would have to move quickly if they wanted to get the timber away. They did, the brothers worked, cutting the timber and transporting it out of the area while the sisters of the family took care of all the farm work. When the bridge was finally closed for 'repairs' the timber was already being treated in Auckland and shortly after that shipped down here to Nuhaka.

Almost forty years after the building had been erected, one of the sisters who had been attending a Māori Women's Welfare League conference in Gisborne visited the marae and wept as she greeted her old friends, now the stately, carved poupou 'ngā tipuna rongonui i roto i te whare'.

Prime Minister Peter Fraser opened Kahungunu War Memorial Meeting House at Nūhaka on 27 August 1949. The meeting house was built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (‘Mormon Church’), with support from local Māori land trusts. It was dedicated to Ngāti Kahungunu servicemen who had died during both world wars. The carvings were by Pine and John Taiapa.

In 1960 the church proposed transferring the building to Hawaii to form part of a village showcasing Pacific cultures but, after some controversy, it was gifted to the Community of Nuhaka by the church in the late 1970s and continues to serve the people.

Many community events have taken place in this beautifully carved hall, Church services, ANZAC services, weddings, funerals, Gold & Green Balls, birthdays, school concerts, performing arts courses, Tikanga Maori Wananga, etc. It was gifted to the Community of Nuhaka by the church in the late 1970s and continues to serve the people.


"Mate atu he tetekura, ara mai he tetekura."

A Chief dies, another takes his place. 

"Marae are places of refuge for our people and provide facilities to enable us to continue with our own way of life within the total structure of our own terms and values. 



Te reo māori

Haere Mai 
Te ape Tuarangi
Haere Mai
Ki runga i tenei Marae

Te hunga mate
Ko tatau ko to hunga ora
Nau Mai 
Haere Mai  
E noho
Whaikorero (pa eke) 


Distinguish guests 
We greet you 
to this Marae 
We weep

For our dead 
For us the living 
Be Seated 
Press noses 

"The Karanga Rang Out Across the Marae"

Ko Moumoukai Te Maunga 
Ko Nuhaka Te Awa 
Ko Rakaipaaka Te Iwi
Ko Takitimu Te Waka 
Ko Kahungunu Te Whare 
Ko Te Pepeha,
"Nga Tukemata Nui O Kahungunu" 


"Marae are places of refuge for our people and provide facilities to enable us to continue with our own way of life within the total structure of our own terms and values.


We need our marae for a list of reasons:

  1. That we may rise tall in oratory 

  2. That we may weep for our dead 

  3. That we may pray to God 

  4. That we may have our feasts 

  5. That we may house our guests 

  6. That we may have our meetings 

  7. That we may have our weddings 

  8. That we may have our reunions 

  9. That we may sing 

  10. That we may dance And then know the richness of life And the proud heritage which is truly ours.

"Haere Mai e te Manuhiri Tuarangi ki te Marae-a-tea"


"Kia to ai koe, hei tangata I runga o to papa Whakatupuranga"
Stand tall, and be secure, on the land of your inheritance. 



The KAHUNGUNU meeting house is divided into 3 areas:


Verandah —

Poupou unfold the past migrations in their order and yet still in the world of legends. e.g. Maui, Kupe, Toi Te Huatahi, Tamatea-Arikinui.


Inside The Meeting House —
Strengthens the Kahungunu-Rongomaiwahine union by their genealogical connections to other canoes and intermarriages, thus moving into the world of light and life.


The Stage —

Is likened to a sanctuary e.g. from the forsaking of tribal and racial conflicts as peace prevailed throughout the land and the ultimate conversion of the Māori to Christianity.

The memorial plaques are displayed in the Sanctuary area, as previously mentioned that this was the only way to obtain a building permit (post-war), by making Kahungunu a Memorial Meeting House.

On the stage are fine examples of Tukutuku panel weaving unique in Maori art, depicting some of the area's renowned ancestors. Rakaipaka, Tukukanao, Tureia, Kaukohea etc.


"Mahia nga mahi kei tamariki ana"

Be energetic and work while young.


The meeting house. The Marae and the meeting house together serve as the focal point for community feeling. The meeting house is normally the major central building and has many names including — Tipuna Whare, Whare Nui, etc.

In nearly all cases it is not only named after an ancestor but it is designed to represent symbolically the ancestor. Thus the carved figure (Tekoteko) on the rooftop in front represents the ancestor's head; the carved angles from the head down towards the ground (Maihi) represent the arms; the ridge pole down the center of the building (Tahuhu or Taahu) is seen as the backbone; and the rafters (Heke), reaching from the ridge pole to the carved figures around the walls (Poupou) represent the ribs.

The Poupou are normally carved ancestors representing other tribes and provide a feeling of belonging. The uprights, normally two holding up the Tahuhu, represent the connection between Rangi, the sky father, and Papa-Tuanuku, the earth mother.

While there are other interpretations, it follows that meeting houses are named after an ancestor. Entering the house can be seen as entering into the bosom of the ancestor.  It follows, also, that the interaction between people on the Maraenui Atea-O-Tumatauenga can be, and should be, quite different from what is normally encouraged inside the house. It is believed that inside the house Rongo, the god of peace reigns, and it is in this atmosphere and under this belief that people are required to interact with one another.


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