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She left home in 1800’s, and returned only fifteen years ago. After a multi-million dollar restoration the Mataatua Wharenui is back on Whakatane’s foreshore.

Mataatua the Return Home Te Manuka Tutahi Marae Whakatane Mataatua at the centre small

Te Manuka Tutahi Marae Whakatane,  Mataatua at the centre.

The twenty four metre long meeting house was sent abroad in 1879 by the New Zealand government and displayed in Australia and London, before being erected at the Otago Museum where it stayed for seventy years.

Mataatua the Return Home Mataatua Wharenui with guides and Manager Hinauri Mead foreground small

Mataatua Wharenui with guides and  manager Hinauri Mead foreground.

The Ngāti Awa Tribe finally got her back in 1995, reduced in height and with damaged carvings and missing tukutuku panels.

Mataatua the Return Home Pouroto Ngaropo small

Pouroto Ngaropo

But Mataatua is now the centre of a new marae and tourist complex in Whakatane, where a dramatic sound-and-light-show tells her story. For Spectrum, David Steemson visits.

For more information on Mataatua Wharenui in Whakatane , and the Sound and light Show 'Hiko: Legends Carved in Light', go to