A dream from the past ... a pathway to the future

This development at Mangatowai is the realization of a time-honoured vision that originated from David's grandfather, Manuka Mihipo Henare. The catalyst is also the recent returning of ancestral land on which this uniquely designed marae will reside.

The name Mangatowai is derived from David's grandfather who came to the area in the 1920's on horseback. At the time he carried a towai tree sapling as a whip. On his arrival he drove this towai sapling into the earth which then took root and in time flourished into a towai tree.

The project is therefore guided by the kaupapa 

"Nga Kaiawhi mo Mangatowai kia hikoi ko tahi, ai."

and is manifest by everyone walking as one, like the flourishing sapling that blossoms for all to see and enjoy.

Mangatowai is shown on the map that follows. It is on the Taupo Bay Road and is within the orange circle. The immediate area of land involved is 0.4 ha. It has a northwesterly aspect and is largely sheltered from the prevailing southeasterly and southwesterly winds.

Location Map - Mangatowai

The remains of the building towards the rear of the site is the hapu's original Wharehui. Within this facility, the tradition of allowing the four walls to speak occurred. In other words discussion (korero) could come from whoever wished to speak, rather than following the more recently adopted practice of hierarchical speaking rights.

The original Wharehui

Broad goals and objectives

The concept embraces five main goals as follows:
  • To create a sustainable, culturally-based enterprise centered on a new marae specifically designed to celebrate the meeting of cultures. 
  • To ensure its purpose embraces community needs both functionally and symbolically. In effect, ensuring its design, construction and use over the years ahead will remain a manifestation of cultural unity for those within its sphere of influence. 
  • To foster linked complementary initiatives such as eco-tourism. 
  • To use state of the art energy-related technologies within the buildings that are specifically designed to match the site and aspirations of the principle proponents. The aim here is to create a community-based facility that is a model in self-sufficiency and energy conservation. 
  • Embrace tikanga values and also practices such as kawa to allow events such as weddings to be celebrated. This means that although Maori protocols such as no food or drink being consumed within the Wharenui, those activities can occur in adjoining structures as part of the celebrations.

The project leaders emphasize that this cultural enterprise needs to be seen as a model which could be replicated elsewhere rather than an exclusive or preferential project.


Sound governance of the project is assured. This is because local kaumatua will be assisted by several other influential trustees including three eminent local authority leaders: Her Worship Yvonne Sharp, Mayor Bob Harvey and Mayor John Law. Other prominent Maori leaders have also pledged their support including Dame Georgina Kirby and Hector Busby. All these leaders are enthusiastically behind the project because it aims to be 'a beacon for sustainable enterprise for communities within and beyond Aotearoa', as outlined in the project's guiding trust deed.

The initial Mangatowai Community Trustees are - Her Worship Yvonne Sharp (Far North District Council), Mayor Bob Harvey (Waitakere City Council), Mayor John Law (Rodney District Council), Ella Henry, Sue Shepherd, Hector Busby, David Henare, Pauline Henare-More, Mita Harris, Alan Brooker.  Dame Georgina Kirby has accepted the role of Patron.

The project will realize immense benefits for the community in this beautiful yet remote location on the northeast coast of the Far North.

It will:

  • Establish strong cross-cultural linkages and experiences. 
  • Provide insights for visitors part of a cultural/spiritual journey. 
  • Create employment, livehoods and self-sustaining avenues for succeeding generations to come. 
  • Create a venture imbued with the wairua that is Ngati Kahu me Ngapuhi ki Whaingaroa.

Key facility objectives
  • Evoking the sense of community unity by drawing people together to celebrate special events, share experiences and knowledge.
  • Self-sufficiency in energy. 
  • Targeting zero waste and zero emissions. 
  • Sustainable architecture and design. 
  • Actioning ecotourism principles and practices.