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Earlier this year, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei officially opened ten new whare which are now sitting above Ōkahu Bay overlooking the Waitematā Harbour.

The whare are situated across the road from Ōrākei Marae, the heartbeat and cultural hub for the hapū, enhancing the connection between our kaumātua and the marae.

The residents of our kaumātua housing development moved into their new homes in January, so we caught up with one of the kaumātua – Whaea Anita – to see how she’s settling into her brand new whare on the papa kāinga.

Whaea Anita spent most of her early years moving between Te Waipounamu and Te Ika a Maui, before moving to Australia where she lived most of her adult life. After a loss in her whānau, she decided to return home to Aotearoa, so moving into this home felt like a new beginning in many ways.

She was part of the kaumātua working group who co-designed the whare and is very pleased with the result of the housing project.

“It felt like a dream when we were talking about what the kaumātua whare could look like, but now I’m actually living in one. It’s just awesome.

“I love everything about the house - the view, the Waitematā harbour, only having to cross the road to get to the Wharenui - everything around me is so functional and beautiful.”

Seeing her whanaunga around the marae and coming home to her purpose-built whare are her favourite parts of living on the papa kāinga. 

“I’ve caught up with so many of my cousins who are my age that I haven’t seen in years. It’s great that I can just walk outside and instantly see them. We talk about everything!” she says.

Whaea Anita’s whānau are very happy that she’s back in Aotearoa, with all 21 of them locked in to come visit her and see the new whare in March next year. She has 6 moko and 11 great moko who live in Australia and have never been to Aotearoa before. After two long years, she’s extremely excited to see them again, and for the kids to experience the Ōrākei Marae. Good thing she’s got a spare room and the Marae is so close!