Ever since we saw the film Ever the Land in the 2015 film festival we have been wanting to visit Tuhoe’s new tribal development centre, Te Kura Whare. The only “Living Building” in Aotearoa, and one of only a handful in the world, it is made wherever possible from local resources by local people, uses non-toxic materials which can be recycled or returned to the earth, and exemplifies best environmental practice. It is also a centre for on-going social development , and the embodiment of vision for a sustainable future – and it is very beautiful.
This Tuhoe website explains the challenge and the practice in relation to the iwi’s past and future:
We were shown around the building for almost two hours by Maea, a young man schooled in deep Maori knowledge, and deeply committed to the future of the people. Everything we saw showed the spirit and the mana of Tuhoe, who were supported in creating the building by the architect late Ivan Mercep (who designed the AGGS Centennial Centre for our 1988 celebrations) and his team from Jasmax, and Alan Drayton (who built many of the Earthsong houses) who worked with the young people to create the rammed earth bricks for the building.
The cafe features interesting indigenous and healthy local foods, too, and is staffed by delightful young people. We enjoyed an excellent lunch there.
Te Kura Whare is a building to be experienced, rather than described- we can only say that the Tuhoe people working there, like the building itself, exemplify harmonious relationships, hope, beauty, and vision for a positive future.
We had hoped to visit Tame Iti’s art gallery while we were in Taneatua too, but it was closed- however his influence on the town through murals is clearly evident… This painting is a tribute by Tame Iti to his grandmother and the ancestors: