The official
website of
Matihetihe Marae
Nau mai
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This is the official website for Matihetihe Marae.
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Matihetihe Marae is a coastal marae about 10 kilometres north of the Hokianga harbour, and a similar distance south of the Whangape harbour. It is nestled beside the sand dunes. Beyond is the great Moana Tapokopoko-a-Tawhaki (Tasman Sea). The name Matihetihe refers to the tumbleweed (tihetihe) that grows abundantly in the sand dunes. The area is a typical wild west coast and in pristine condition. It is surrounded by unspoiled or regenerating native bush and a marine environment that provides food to the local community. The marae is within the bounds of the Hokianga, an area rich in history and the returning place of Kupe via his re-adzed waka called Ngatokimatawhaorua which was commanded by Nukutawhiti.


Matihetihe is reached via West Coast Rd, Mitimiti and the land it sits on is Tao Maui Reserve 1B2 and C2 (Parirau-a-Paparangi Trust). It is one of 23 marae that are part of Te Rarawa iwi (tribe). Its hapu (subtribes) are Te Tao Maui and Te Hokokeha. The marae complex consists of a wharehui (wharenui) Tumoana (ancestral and meeting house); a wharekai, Nga Ringa Rau o Te Akau (kitchen and dining hall); the old wharekai, and an ablutions block. Next to the marae complex is Hato Hemi the catholic church also owned by the marae. Above on the hill to the south is the waahi tapu (cemetery) called Hione (Zion, what was its original name?).


The current wharehui was built in August 1953 in a rush when at the time that Takou Himiona Kamira, a rangatira of note was dying. At the time, both men and women helped to build the whare as they wanted it to be ready for his tangi (funeral rites). It had no verandah originally. Prior to this building, an older wharenui had been located across from the current site further from the dunes but facing towards the sea. It was blown over in a storm. In 2015, the current wharehui was completely refurbished as part of TV3s DIY Marae programme.


The old wooden building behind the large wharekai today, was originally located at the school opposite the flag pole. Children used to watch films there and was also used as a store room for sport equipment. Later, it became an art room. Perhaps this is where Raukura (Ralph) Hotere spent his early days as a child creating art. When the school could afford to get a bigger building it was donated to the marae and became the original wharekai. Later, once the large, new one was built around 1987/8, the old building became Te Akau Social Club with a bar, pool table and dart board, complete with train seating.


In the 1800s, Atama Paparangi, a rangatira had embraced the catholic faith (katorika). He demanded total allegiance from everyone associated with Matihetihe Marae. This allegiance meant that the catholic church agreed that the church Hato Hemi could be built. Atama placed a wooden plaque in the wharenui proclaiming his religious beliefs with “Kia aroha ki te ariki – Kia aroha hoki ki te whakaritenga” – advocating that people should love god and that which is set out by the church. He also ordered the exhumation of the remains of all pre-christian burials from the waahi tapu on Hione. They were transferred to Pipiro (now named Waihopai). It is said that Waihopai (leave it for good) was named following the transfer. During his lifetime, no non-catholics were allowed to be buried at Hione. However, this is not adhered to today and many hapu members living local and away, are not catholics.



Photo: 2015 Connie Tito Graham



Colleen Leauanae (Chair)

Willie Te Wake (Vice Chair)

Anne Te Wake (Treasurer)

Rose Manning (Secretary) 

© 2021 Matihetihe Marae.

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