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Meeting house reopened with grand ceremony

Thursday 13 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Church Talk, Features, Local, National


Meeting house reopened with grand ceremony
Takamoa Theological College members and the Manihiki band. MELINA ETCHES/23071015

Te Kapua’anga O Te Evangelia’ Meeting House in Takuvaine, a special gathering place which was built to commemorate Gospel history, has reopened its doors following a two-month-long renovation project.

The rededication ceremony was attended by around 800 people and met with great anticipation and excitement among the community.

Meticulous and extensive restoration efforts have transformed the once run-down building into a shining meeting place which now also stands as an emergency shelter.

Dressed proudly in their village colours of white and red, the Takuvaine community and invited guests joined the celebration in song and dance on Saturday.

Built in 1953, the meeting house was named to mark the historical occasion when Papehia Teato, a Tahitian first preached the Christian message to the people of Te Au O Tonga on 25 July 1823 in Takuvaine.

The land 'Arepepe' the house sits on was gifted to the Takuvaine Community by Karika Ariki at the turn of the century.

This gifting of the land was confirmed recently through the signing of a perpetual lease by Makea Karika George Ariki, Prime Minister Mark Brown (Government) and Pu Tapere of the village Tekura Potoru.

Makea Karika George Ariki and his wife Mere unveil the commemorative plaque for Te Kapua’anga O Te Evangelia Meeting House. MELINA ETCHES/23071011

Makea Karika George Ariki narrated his childhood memories of the gathering place when the village met for dance practices, when people would come together for discussions and host important events, and where children would gather for recreation activities.

The Pu Tapere and Chairman of the Takuvaine Community Inc Tekura Potoru said: “I was very happy to see hundreds of people attend our special day.

“We didn’t think that many would turn up and so we were all really happy to see that people did come to celebrate with us.

“We are proud of our beautiful meeting house which now has ramps for easier and safer access, a lot of work has gone into it and we are grateful.

“Everyone had a great day, everyone enjoyed themselves and it was good to see people get up and dance.

“Meitaki maata to everyone involved in the refurbishment of our meeting house,” said Potoru.

Emcee Papatua Papatua introduced the formalities of the occasion which involved the removing of pareu surrounding the front of the building by Sir Tom Marsters, Kathy Koteka and others, the unveiling of the plaque by Makea Karika George Ariki and his wife Mere, the cutting of the maire ribbon by Mama Jane Rairi, former Queen’s Representative Sir Frederick Goodwin, Prime Minister Mark Brown and his wife Daphne, landowners and invited guests.

Former Queens Representative Sir Frederick Goodwin cuts the maire ribbon to the entrance of Te Kapua’anga O Te Evangelia’ Meeting House in Takuvaine. MELINA ETCHES/23071012

Representatives from Manihiki and Penrhyn also unveiled commemoration stones, presented cash donations followed by songs and dance as a mark of respect and gratitude to Takuvaine for hosting their people to Rarotonga in 1953 and 1955-1956.

Motivation for the major renovation project was the 200 years commemoration celebration Te Arikianga o te Evangelia, the Arrival of the Gospel celebrations on 25 July.

After 70 years, a traditional ceremony Te Kiriti'anga Tapu - the lifting of the sacredness was conducted on 1st May before renovations on the dilapidated building began the day after.

Tani Mussell’s SiteworX construction company carried out the work which comprised of substantial repairs carried out to the hall, including re-roofing, recladding the exterior and relining the interior and replacing the rotten wooden posts with strong concrete posts.

Maria Ioane, secretary of the Takuvaine Community said the renovation cost  $213664.25, the Takuvaine community contributed $100,000 and Government funded $113,664.25 under the project called the ‘Rarotonga Safety Shelter Programme (RSSP)’.

The RSSP was established in 2021 to support remediation works to community/public buildings designated or identified as potential cyclone/safety shelters.

Cabinet approved two pilot projects under the Rarotonga Safety Shelter Programme; the first was the Nikao CICC Hall and the second is Te Kapua'anga o te Evangelia Meeting House.

Consultant Bim Tou was engaged by Government to oversee the renovation project - a joint venture between the Government represented by Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) and the Takuvaine Community Incorporated.

The Takuvaine Community Inc executive members:                                         Chairman – Tekura Potoru, Vice Chairman – Tangi Tereapii Numangatini Ariki, Secretary – Maria Matua-Ioane, Treasurer – Anna Savage and their committee members from Kaviri/Taumou, Takuvaine Valley, Takuvaine Tai and Tauae would like to acknowledge and thanks everyone who assisted and supported the project.