30 Apr 2012

Governor General opens new heritage centre in Kaitaia

6:32 am on 30 April 2012

It was a busy weekend for the Far North tribe of Te Rarawa.

The new Te Ahu Heritage Centre in Kaitaia was opened by the Governor General on Saturday, coinciding with the anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi there in 1840.

Te Ahu Heritage Centre provides space for Kaitaia's library, museum, council offices and visitors' centre.

The project was initially controversial, but is now drawing praise for its imposing design and use of Maori design elements.

One of the country's most significant carvings, Tangonge, will also be housed at the Heritage Centre for the next year.

The totara carving is usually on permanent display in Auckland War Memorial Museum's He Taonga Maori gallery.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi says housing the taonga in the centre will ensure that all people of the rohe (region) can have an association with it and its significance as a national treasure.