Chanel College students, councillors, former staff, iwi, local figures, and those involved in the wharenui gathered to celebrate 25 years of Chanel College’s wharenui Hinerangi. PHOTO/ELI HILL

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Work to rejuvenate Chanel College’s 25-year-old wharenui was celebrated on Tuesday.

About 30 people, including iwi, councillors, members of local trusts, former students, members of the Catholic church and education community, were welcomed to the school by waiata, and kapa haka from Chanel students.

Guests were treated to an in-depth movie looking into the creation of the wharenui [meeting place], which was researched and voiced by former teacher, and one of the women behind the wharenui’s foundation, Claire Hills.

Hills took the guests back to 1992 when she and te reo Maori teacher Selina Mathieson-Waru were having a cup of tea in Hills’ kitchen.

The pair had been talking about the need for a wharenui when Hills’ husband Peter challenged them to make it happen.

So, the two teachers started an account with $14 left over from housekeeping and with help from locals, and local trusts, the idea grew from there.

Hills said students had been involved every step of the way, from informing the board on developments, to fundraising through a walk from Carterton to Masterton, sausage sizzles, battens up evenings, and garage sales.

The name Hinerangi was gifted to the wharenui by Rangitāne and Ngāti Kahungunu – Hinerangi was an ancestor the iwi shared.

Carvings were made by inmates from the joinery shop in Rimutaka Prison, and the building that eventually become Hinerangi was originally a cottage.

After the documentary, Hills donated a photograph of the students who had been involved in the creation of Hinerangi.

This was met with a haka from Chanel students, before guests went for a tour of Hinerangi.