Working with Ngāti Awa on New Zealand's only repatriated and most-travelled Māori meeting house

Boffa Miskell was engaged to assist Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa) with the final act in a 130-year journey of the much-travelled Mataatua wharenui, which was the establishment of the Mataatua wharenui as the focal point of the new Te Manuka Tutahi Marae complex on Muriwai Drive, Whakatane.


Bay of Plenty

Project team

Matt Allott
Morné Hugo

Project date

2006 - 2011

Mataatua wharenui was originally opened in Whakatane in 1875. Only five years after its original opening, the wharenui was disassembled by the New Zealand Government, packed into crates and sent to Sydney for the 1879 British Empire Exhibition.

After Sydney, it went to Melbourne, then to London where it was re-erected at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was taken down and stored for 40 years, before being reassembled for the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924-25. The wharenui was returned to New Zealand in 1925 and sent to Dunedin, to be placed in Otago Museum.

Ngāti Awa and the Crown completed an historic settlement for the return of the Mataatua whare in 1996. As a result of the agreement, taonga of the carved house Mataatua were finally returned to Ngāti Awa.

Boffa Miskell provided planning and design services to Ngāti Awa, which assisted firstly with the granting of resource consent, and secondly with the construction of this historically significant development.

The complex brings significant benefits to the Whakatane community as a conference and events venue. The complex also boasts a world-class visitor experience centred on the fascinating story of Mataatua wharenui.