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Aram Cooper Ria Hall

The architect of the Ohinewaipu Marae DIY makeover Arama Cooper (pictured above with presenter Ria Hall) is kicking himself.

After two days of early finishes, unforeseen problems have emerged that will see Te Whānau a Takimoana working to almost midnight on the eve of the marae reveal.

Rangitukia is an isolated community on the East Coast, 151 kilometres north of Gisborne, on the opposite side of the Waiapu River to Ruatoria. It’s a little more than a 2-hour drive from Gisborne, and that remoteness is making matters worse when the concrete trucks haven’t brought enough mix, there is not enough silicone to complete the paving, and one of the awnings that were ordered for the paepae extension hasn’t shown up.

Arama sighs with disappointment – it’s 6 pm.

“Both concrete trucks brought the wrong measurements; we didn't have enough concrete for the paving. Um so yeah not looking too good. But um Nah we’re resilient – Ahakoa te aha, ka haere tonu te kaupapa.

The Marae DIY television producers wanted some drama to spice up the show, and now its arrived. Arama and the whānau go to the Ohinewaiapu marae DIY page sending an SOS message to ask whanau in Gisborne to come to their aid.

“So we come up with some plan B’s, C’s, D’s, Z’s you know, and we’ve got some whānau coming back from Gizzy now with that extra stuff.”

Whānau are now mixing the concrete by hand and with the fresh supplies due in a few hours the whanau are committed to getting the job done. They finish at 11:30 pm, whānau working on painting the new maihi with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa artists that will adorn the wharekai Te Ohaki work to 1:30 am.

The following morning Arama has changed his labourer’s clothes and hard hat to an elegant blue suit, shirt and tie. He’s 31 years old but looks much younger. His mother was Materia Marjorie Rukuata Cooper. Arama is a grandson of Enoka Rukuata, a prominent chief of Te Whānau a Takimoana.

“The story that I was told by my Uncle Enoka, who has his name, was that he was the one that stopped cannibalism throughout Ngāti Porou. Te Ngutuawa, Te Riu o Waiapu was the last place that he did that mahi. Hence, why we like our steaks blue; splash in the pan. Ahh yeah that’s my hononga, te whānau o Takimoana,” he says.

“But this whole kaupapa started from my Mum, when we came back to a tangi once, I remember as a tamaiti,  it was raining that day, when we brought the tūpāpaku on, and all the rain was coming through into the Wharekai and um she was the one that said, “Geez son, it’ll be nice if we can fix that roof.” Um so yeah and then when my Mum passed away that’s when I thought - me whakatinanahia tera moemoeā.”

Arama is a kaiako at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Christchurch and has recently been promoted to Kaiako of Te Aupikitanga o Te Reo Kairangi. Marae DIY producer Nichola Jaques, aka Nix, who works for Auckland television production house Screentime says the Ohinewaiapu application was hard to refuse.

“Arama Cooper put in an amazing tono actually in 2015 – it was stellar. The images, he provided was the bait that caught our attention, the attention to detail and the care he took made it easy to make the decision.”

Arama says he put the application in to reconnect whānau with their marae.

“I got the application but before I did anything further, I went to see my pāpā, tō mātou rangatira, Enoka Rukuata or as we call him in our whanau Uncle Boy and asked for his permission and of course, the pakeke, the trustees of this Marae and the Kōmiti and they said yes and that’s how this all came about, and they supported my tono and it was all about their moemoeā.

“Ki te whakatīnanahia i o rātou tumanako. All their aspirations, all their dreams that is what I wanted to do this for the next generations coming through.”

Arama’s mum Materia will rest easy now that the rain will no longer seep through Te Ohaki wharekai or Ohinewaiapu meeting house onto manuhuri – thanks to Arama and the whānau both of the buildings have been reroofed.

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Article By: Te Anga Nathan

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