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Ngāti Ōtara to be a beacon of hope for community

Published: 14 August 2018
  • Ngāti Ōtara park's facilities are set for a major upgrade in the coming years. 
  • Ōtara Scorpions Rugby League Club chairman Willie Maea. Photo credit: Alex Carter for Humans of South Auckland.

Thirty years of dreams and discussions will be realised when work begins on Ngāti Ōtara's new multi-sport facility early next year.

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board and Auckland Council have approved funding to enable construction of the new sporting facility and to also create consented designs for the Ngāti Ōtara Cultural Centre, replacing the existing marae.

Ōtara Scorpions Rugby League Club chairman Willie Maea says it will only enhance the sports-mad area.

“It’s going to add to the confidence [that people have in the area] as well as add to the community’s engagement in what we offer here. For them to see a brand-new building, it’s going to be a beacon for this area," Willie Maea says. 

Currently rugby league, netball, tag, kilikiti and rugby make use of the large fields at the end of Ōtara Rd.  

Willie says a new building has been a long time coming.

“The talk about a new building has been going on for thirty years so it will mean a whole lot to a lot of people. This current building, the Scorpions' clubrooms, was a hand me down from a soccer club and before that, we had an old prefab. We’ve never had anything new, so the new building will be the first time the clubs here have had a brand new facility.”

The five sports at the grounds currently engage over 100 teams and Willie is confident the new buildings will help all the sports grow their numbers.

“The building has the capacity to grow as the sporting community grows,” he says.

“It will also allow us to run small business enterprises so we can be self-sustaining.”

Planning to begin on cultural centre design

Ngāti Ōtara Marae Custodian Albert Vahaakolo says people are pleased the project will finally be getting underway, including the consented designs for the new Culture Centre.

“There’s a sense of happiness that something's been done because the discussions on this project have been going on for years. It gives people a sense that things are getting done,” Albert Vahaakolo says. 

“As far as the marae is concerned, people aren’t going to be that happy not seeing both buildings go up. It’s just a matter for us to raise the money for the physical build. Having said that, we definitely want to get it done as it’s something that’s never been done I believe [having a marae and multi-sport centre on the same site].”

The marae has the kaupapa of Tainui, but is pan-tribal, which means it’s for everyone and Albert says once the new cultural centre is complete it will be of benefit to the whole community.

“We are raising funds at the moment, and we are hoping to have a good amount by the end of the year," he says.

“It will be a bigger facility that’s open to anybody, it currently can hold 100 people which really isn’t enough. But if we have a bigger building, it opens up a wide range of opportunities.”

Local board excited about Ngati Ōtara's potential

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair Lotu Fuli says the board is very excited to enable this project to come to fruition.

“We know how much sport means to Ōtara and after years of being overlooked for a much needed ‘fit for purpose’ facility, we’re proud to finally deliver on this well-overdue project."

“Our board was mindful of the long wait that the Ōtara community has had for this project and has decided to stage the project so that at least something can be delivered for our community," Lotu Fuli says. 

"We simply do not have the funds to build both the multi-sport centre and the marae in one go. So, we are starting with the multi-sport complex while we go out for external funding for the marae. We hope that there are some funders out there who can help us build a great cultural centre for everyone.”

The Ngāti Ōtara Multi-sport complex and Cultural Centre (marae) are estimated to cost $4.2 million and $6 million respectively and currently $4.7 million has been designated for the developed design and consenting phase for both buildings to progress and for the construction of the multi-sport facility.

A consented design for the marae will enable external funding to be sought for the construction of the cultural centre.

This next phase of work is expected to take approximately eight months meaning physical work on the multi-sport facility is likely to begin in early 2019.