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An early morning start in Ōtautahi was rewarded with a breakfast of champions at the new Te Wānanga o Aotearoa site in Christchurch.

Kina, paua, koura, raw fish, parai paraoa and hangi were on the menu at 6.30am, following the 5am blessing of the site, in central Manchester St.

The new site, which has been more than 10 years in the making, gives Ōtautahi kaimahi and tauira a purpose-built venue after years of delivering classes at dozens of different sites around the city.

Kaiwhakahaere Ako Sipola Paris says the new site will be a huge benefit to kaimahi and tauira alike.

“We had travelling kaiako, taking all their rauemi in their cars all over town,” she says.

The new site features five classrooms, office space and a café area, with stunning art works by current and past tauira and kaimahi throughout the building.

Sipola says the opening is the “realisation of a dream we all had”.

“So many people have been part of this process and for me it embodies the values of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. It’s a big thing for the community to have a hub, and now we have a turangawaewae. We’re blessed to have a physical presence in the community.”

More than 100 people – including former kaimahi and tauira - attended the blessing and pōwhiri and took the opportunity to tour the site before it begins hosting classes next week.

Sipola says the development of the new site had been a healing process for many, who had lived and worked through the Christchurch earthquakes. But that experience had shown that things can change in an instant.

“We’ve been through it all and while this is beautiful, as with anything, things can fall at any time but it’s the people who remain. It’s the people that make the whare and we are here for the people.”

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