Te Mako will be the name for Naenae Community Centre

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Published: 29 May 2024

Hutt City Council today approved Te Mako – Naenae Community Centre as the official name for the new facility.

The centre is housed in the former Naenae Post office which originally opened in 1959 and will open on Matariki.

The name was proposed by the Community Advisory Group that has worked closely with the project as an appropriate way to acknowledge Te Āti Awa rangatira Wiremu Tako (Wī Tako) Ngātata. Te Mako was the name of a 17-roomed house Wī Tako occupied in the 1850s, after he relocated from Kumutoto Pā in Wellington to the site of an old pā in Naenae, also named Te Mako.

Mayor Campbell Barry said he was delighted the name was linked to the community’s rich history.

“Te Mako has been used in Naenae dating back centuries, so it is an honour to preserve and continue to use this taonga.”

The proposed name was supported by Mana Whenua  and also by Team Naenae Trust, the community group which will operate the centre.

Liz Mellish, Te Atiawa elder, said Te Mako will provide the community with a place to work, play, learn and belong.

“It will be a home for our Naenae people.”

CAG representative Emily Innes paid tribute to all the work put into creating a beautiful place for the community.

“Many people have shared their ideas and efforts to breathe life back into this special building for Naenae. It is now the stunning centrepiece of Hillary Court once more.”

About the name Te Mako

Te Mako was the name of a 17-roomed house where Wī Tako lived in the 1850s, after he moved from Wellington to the site of an old pā in Naenae, also named Te Mako. Wī Tako had come from Taranaki with the Tama-te-uaua migration of 1832.

While living at Te Mako, Wī Tako commissioned Te Heuheu Tukino IV (Horonuku) to carve the pātaka whakairo (carved storehouse) Nuku Tewhatewha in 1856 as a symbol of his support for the Kīngitanga movement. Pōtatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato was declared the first Māori king two years later.

Nuku Tewhatewha was later moved to Thorndon, then to the Wairarapa, where it stood on a family farm for decades until being returned to Lower Hutt in 1982. It is now recognised as one of the greatest taonga of Te Awa Kairangi  (Lower Hutt) and is the only item on permanent display at the Dowse Art Museum.
In 1872 Wī Tako was appointed to the Legislative Council, the upper house of the New Zealand parliament, where he opposed legislation threatening Māori possession of land. He was a party to the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson purchase and his father was a signatory to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

He died in 1887 at his home in Lower Hutt and is buried at Korokoro Cemetery.