After 30 years, the late Pa Henare Tate’s dream of having a whare taonga to house a massive collection of artefacts relating to the Catholic Church’s history in New Zealand is closer to becoming a reality.

The Raiatea Motuti Resource and Archive Centre is being constructed on the Motuti Marae Trustees’ land in the Hokianga. The site was blessed on November 25, 2017 and building commenced on December 4, 2017.

The Nga Kaihoe i a Raiatea (Raiatea working group) in a statement to NZ Catholic said the centre is being built to bring Pa Henare’s and the Motuti Marae’s “collections together so they may be looked after appropriately”.

Pa Tate passed away on April 1, 2017.

“Pā Henare touched the lives of many. And so, making Raiātea Motuti Resource and Archive Centre a reality, is a testimony of our aroha to Pā Henare Tate,” said Sr Magdalen Sheahan, DOLC, on behalf of the group.

“Pā Henare Tate was committed to creating a resource that would help people re-connect with their Hokianga whakapapa, a place where pilgrims can learn about Pompallier’s legacy here in the Hokianga and to create employment opportunities for Motuti whānau.

“Rāiatea is a testimony to Pā Henare’s aroha for his Catholic faith, for Bishop Pompallier and Motuti whanau,” Sr Magdalen added.

She said the need for a museum became apparent in the late 1980’s.

“In the original plans for the marae, over 30 years ago, there was an Arts and Crafts Centre on the plan,” she said. “However, soon after the opening of Tamatea (the marae) it became apparent that a museum type buildings was more urgently needed.”

The collections are currently kept in five separate buildings, including Pa Tate’s house and garage.

The proposed two-level building will have display and research facilities as well as an archive store room and a work room.

The group expects the project to be completed within three years depending on the availability of funds.

So far, the group has received funding from the NZ Lotteries Heritage, Department of Internal Affairs, Te Puni Kokiri, Foundation North and the Far North District Council.

Sr Magdalen asked those who wished to contribute towards the building of the centre to contact her at 09 4052240 or email her at tamatea.motuti@xtra.