I te tau 1954, i whakatahangia e Te Kāwanatanga he kotahi eka i te hiwi e kiia nei ko Te Paepae a Te Kawau hei wāhi motuhake mā ngā kaupapa Māori. Waihoki, i whakatūria tētahi kōmiti whakahaere mō taua whenua, heoi ko te nuinga o ngā mema rā nō iwi kē. Kāore a Ngāti Whātua i whakaae ki taua kōmiti.
Ahakoa tērā, i tū te whare tuatahi ko Te Puawai i te tau 1964 hei wāhi whakaako tamariki (Waitangi Tribunal, 1987). I muri mai, ka whakatūngia ētahi tāwharau hei whakamarumaru i ngā mahi. I te tau 1973 i kawea mai he oneone i Okahumatamomoe e Tame Tauna rāua ko Eruera Stirling o Te Whānau-a-Apanui (Salmond, 1980) ki Te Paepae a Te Kawau. Nā konā i tapu ai te whenua hei wāhi tū mō te wharenui hou.
I whakaingoatia a Henare Toka o Ngāti Whatua hei tōhunga whakairo heoi kīhai i roa, ka mate. Nō muri ka hui tahi ngā kaumātua, ā, ka tahuri atu ki tētahi Pākehā ki a Denis Conway, me te aha, ko ia te pura tuawhiti o ngā tauira a Henare Toka. Ko Murray Pihema, rātou ko Len Phillips ko Ben Tumahai ko Harry Wikaira, ko wai atu, ko wai atu, ētahi o ngā kaiwhakairo i tārei i ngā peka a Tāne. Ko Maude Tumahai rātou ko Alice Pihema ko Piupiu Hawke ko Makareta Tamariki ētahi o ngā wāhine i ako ai i ngā mahi raranga i te timatanga o te kaupapa. Heoi, ka huri ngā tau ka tīmata ētahi atu ki te whai atu i ngā tapaue o ērā kuia.
I te tau 1975 i whakatū ai te kōmiti i tētahi wharekai hou hei wāhi mahi moni, hei wāhi whakangahau i ngā pūkoronui o Tāmaki. Ka tutū i a Ngāti Whātua te puehu nā te mea ka hiahia rātou ki taua wharekai hei manaaki i ā rātou manuhiri. I tētahi hui o te Taraipiunara o te Tiriti o Waitangi i puta ai te wero a Hapi Pihema o Ngāti Whātua. Hei tāna, “ko wai ēnei tāngata e pīkoko nei ki te mana whakahaere o tōku marae? He aha tō rātou hononga ki ēnei whenua, ki ēnei tāngata?” (Waitangi Tribunal, 1987). I te tau 1987, i puta ai tētahi whakataunga nui a te Taraipiunara o Te Tiriti o Waitangi, mā Ngāti Whātua tōna marae e hautū. Kātahi ka riro i te Poari o Ngāti Whātua Orākei te mana whakahaere.
Ahakoa ngā piki me ngā heke, i te tau 1989 i oti te wharenui, ka tūwhera ai hei whakapiringa mō te tangata hei whakairinga mō te kōrero. Ka tapaina te whare ki te ingoa a Tumutumuwhenua, tētahi tupuna nui i roto i ngā whakapapa o te Tai Tokerau. Hei tā Grant Pakihana Hawke, ko te mea nui i tērā wā, kua tū rangatira anō a Ngāti Whātua (personal communication, May 25, 2014).
I te tau 1990, ka toro te whare i te ahi. Ka tau mai tētahi pouri nui ki te iwi me te mōhio he pierenuku te mahi whakahou whare. Heoi, nā runga i te akiaki a Sir Hugh Kāwharu me te tautoko a ngā kaumātua me ngā kuia, i tīmata ai ngā mahi whakahou, ā, ka oti i te tau 2006. Nā Hone Kōmene rāua ko Takutai Wīkiriwhi ngā karakia i takitaki kia oho anō ai te mauri o te whare. I te tau 2001, i oti hoki te wharekai hou a Te Puru o Tāmaki hei manaaki i ngā manuhiri a Ngāti Whātua.
In 1954, one acre was set aside by the Government on the ridge called Te Paepae a Te Kawau for Māori purposes. A committee was established to manage the land and it’s activities however most members were from other tribes. Ngāti Whātua did not agree with the makeup of that committee.
Even so, Te Puawai was the first whare to be erected in 1964 as a place for educating young Ngāti Whātua minds. Later, sheds were erected to host a range of activities including funerals. In 1973, soil from the Okahu village was carried by Tom Downs and Eruera Stirling to Te Paepae a Te Kawau. Hence the land was set aside as the site for a new carved meeting house. Henare Toka of Ngāti Whātua was named as the expert carver to lead the project but passed away not long after.
The elders then turned to Australian Denis Conway who was a top student of Henare Toka. He agreed. Murray Pihema, Len Phillips, Ben Tumahai, Harry Wikaira and many others were the carvers who were gathered to finish the carvings. Maude Tumahai, Alice Pihema, Piupiu Hawke and Makareta Tamariki were some of the women who learnt weaving at the beginning of the project. As the years went by, others followed in the footsteps of those kuia.
In 1975 the committee erected a new dining room for fundraising and entertaining the wealthy. Ngāti Whātua were very displeased as they wanted a place to host their visitors. At a Waitangi Tribunal hearing, Hapi Pihema of Ngāti Whātua challenged; Who were these people who coveted the leadership of my marae? What was their connection to the land and people? A major recommendation of the Waitangi Tribunal was that Ngāti Whātua must manage and lead its own marae. Soon afterwards the ownership and control of the marae was vested in the Ngāti Whātua Orākei Trust Board. Although the ups and downs, in 1989 the carved house was completed and was opened as a place of gathering for the people and repository of tribal stories.
The house was bestowed with the name Tumutumuwhenua, a well-known ancestor from the north. According to Grant Pakihana Hawke, the main thing during that time was that the mana of Ngāti Whātua’s was reclaimed. In 1990 the house was damaged by fire. A deep sadness descended upon the people with the knowledge that a rebuild would be difficult. However, upon the call of Sir Hugh Kāwharu and the tribal elders, the refurbishment soon began and was finished in 2006. Hone Kōmene and Takutai Wīkiriwhi led the customary rituals to reawaken the life-force of the house. In 2001 the new dining room Te Puru o Tāmaki was also completed to host the visitors of Ngāti Whātua.
Kāwharu, I. H. (1975). Orakei: A Ngati Whatua Community. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
Salmond, A. (1980) Eruera: The Teachings of a Māori Elder, Wellington, New Zealand: Oxford University Press
Waitangi Tribunal. (1987). Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Orakei Claim: Wai 9. Wellington, New Zealand: Brookers.