News from home / Reo and Culture
Written by:
14 Sep 2016

In October 2014 Leeanne Morice was employed as the Ngati Porou Marae Kaitakawaenga. This position is funded by Toitu Ngati Porou, although Leeanne is an employee of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou.

Prior to starting this role Leeanne was the Manager of TRONPnui’s Matauranga division, which was responsible for supporting East Coast kura as well as organising Ngati Porou cultural events such as the Pa Wars, Nati Awards and Hikurangi Dawn Ceremony.

The Marae Kaitakawaenga position was created in recognition of the important role and function marae play within the Ngati Porou rohe, and to help support marae committees, trustees and whanau. In the following profile find out more about the skills and experiences Leeanne brings to this position and what she does as part of her mahi. 

Nati Link: What marae do you affiliate to?

Leeanne Morice: Like most people in Ngati Porou, I can just about affiliate to all of our marae. However the marae that are closest to my heart are, Hiru­harama, Kariaka and Te Aowera. This is due largely to the influence of both my grandmothers when I was growing up.

My grandmother on my mother’s side, was Te Huinga Waea Harrison (nee Kawhia), and through her I have my bond to Kariaka. I can remember going there a lot with her, she would be one of the stalwarts working at the Pa. Her role was much like a custodian, looking after the kitchen and ensuring that the marae was functional.

My grandmother on my father’s side was Te Iwipani (Fanny) Morice (nee Haua). Through her I have a close con­nection to Hiruharama and Te Aowera marae. She was a weaver and always working with her hands.

NL: Do you have any experience as a Marae trustee?

LM: I’ve been a trustee on Hiruharama Marae since 2010, in the roles of Secretary and Treasurer [pictured in front of the wharenui, Kapohanga-a-Rangi]. Recently I also became a Trus­tee and Secretary of the Whakarua Park Board, the Trustee entity for Whakarua Park including Uepohatu Marae. These experiences help to open your eyes to the issues our marae are facing, and the de­mands on trustees. Being a trustee I have developed a greater appreciation for all the work that goes on in the background to keep a marae ticking, the compliance side of things, negotiating better insur­ance policies and services contracts for power and water supply. Being an active marae whānau member, I know all about ensuring that all our facilities and util­ities are functioning and are able to be used, as and when required. The general decision in regards to maintenance and upkeep of the marae, setting marae hire­age fees and dealing with all the other routine issues that arise at the marae hui.

NL: What do you think are the main roles of being a marae trustee?

LM: Firstly this is mainly coming from my own perspective of being a trustee of Hiruharama Pa. At Hiruharama be­ing a Marae trustee member is also the same thing as being a Marae committee member, they are one in the same. Some marae tend to keep a clear delineation between Trustees and the marae com­mittee, however at Hiruharama we saw real value in working the two together.

So for me personally I think the main role of a marae trustee is to make sure that the tikanga of your marae is being observed, acknowledged and practiced. It also includes making sure the marae feels welcoming to all. What helps con­tribute to that experience is to ensure things are functioning.

Of course you don’t have to be a trus­tee or on the marae committee to con­tribute – I think everyone is there for the same purpose. At one of my marae we have an Aunty who has tended the roses for years and an Uncle who has done some amazing landscaping. This Aunty and Uncle have just seen something that might add value to the Pa and have gone on and done it. Not because anyone told them to do it, but because they wanted to make the Pa look cared for and loved, which it is.

NL: What do you think are the challenges and issues faced by marae?

LM: One of the main issues are the dwindling numbers we have here at home. You tend to see similar groups of the same people who move around and service a cluster of marae – at the back in the kitchen, and especially out the front. The role of kaikaranga and kaikorero is an area that we need to grow. The numbers of people to call on – even to be on marae commit­tees – keeps diminishing.

Other issues are the increase in costs, especially insurance premiums. Al­though the Marae Collective Insurance scheme has helped address this, marae generally don’t generate enough income through koha to pay for everything. The Wai Whai Nati internet scheme provides an opportunity to help offset operational costs. Internet accessibility is attractive to the institutes who hold wananga, which allows their students to research online and Skype. Being connected to the world wide web brings in the educational pro­viders who in turn can help bring in more income for the marae.

Another issue is accessing funding to afford major renovation and main­tenance upgrades. However the $100k Ngati Porou Marae Grants have been a big help in that regard, and the $10k Capital Grants have helped to pay for the purchase of items like new chillers, stoves, mattresses so marae don’t have to dip into their operating accounts.

NL: How does your role help support marae?

LM: Optimising the amount of funding marae are eligible for and are able to ac­cess is a key part of my role. The Marae Grants have made a difference – with­out them a lot of marae would struggle financially. However there are many opportunities for marae to access third party funding from government agencies and charities.

I support marae by letting them know what funding is available, helping them through the process of completing application forms, accessing quotes and providing funding templates. Some marae whanau or hapu members also need assistance because they don’t have access to technology. I have worked with funding organisations such as In­ternal Affairs, to get them to come up the Coast once a month to hold funding clinics.

Creating opportunities for trustees to upskill has been another part of my role. Brokering relationships is another. I work alongside those marae who want to join the Marae Collective Insurance scheme. Next I am going to embark on a needs analysis survey with our 48 marae to identify what are their goals and aspira­tions, areas where they want to improve their operations, or work on specific help and/or resources that they need. Since I have been in the job there are some com­mon themes that have come through in terms of what support is needed, how­ever the survey will confirm this.

NL: What role do you see marae playing in the 21st century and beyond?

LM: I believe they will continue to play a vi­tal role. When we talk about our Ngati Porou culture, language and tikanga, for me the marae represents the place where that all comes together – they are like our last bastion where this is practiced. I don’t think you could really authentically replicate that in some other environment.

The marae is where our customs, our di­alectical differences, our matauranga all originate from. In the olden days our homes used to have the reo and tikanga, but now today most of us don’t have that. For most of our younger generation our marae is where they can be exposed to those values and practices. I believe if we lost our marae, we would lose what makes us unique as Ngati Porou.

If you would like to have a korero with Leeanne about how she can support your marae, please contact her at the Ruatoria office of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou:

Tel: 06 8649 004