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Google Earth tours local marae

A 100-year-old marae just outside Gisborne has become the first to open its doors to global audiences on Google Earth.

Te Pahou Marae on Matakaka No.1 block in Tuaraki Road, Manutuke, belongs to Rongowhakaata sub-tribe Ngati Maru.

It is now part of Google Earth project This is Home. The Google Earth function enables visitors to enter the grounds and wharenui and view all angles as if by a walk-through or turn of the head.

The app is part of a Google Earth project that aims to explore how humans around the world have adapted to their landscapes. Other locations in the project include Madagascar, Indonesia, Mongolia, Kenya and Peru.

This is Home began with five locations that users could interactively tour: Greenlandic Illoq, an Inuit Igloo, a Bedouin tent, a Reed House and a Sherpa home. Google has since added 22 more homes and cultures to explore.

Virtual visitors can enter the marae through the large, carved waharoa (gateway) and enter the wharepuni Te Poho o Taharakau, the guest house. High-definition imagery means the viewer can zoom in on features that include a mixture of traditional woven tukutuku panels and more contemporary geometric designs.

A doorway leads to the wharekai (dining room), which is called Mokai, where large artworks hang the walls.

The area where the marae is located is called Tuaraki, from the phrase “while the sun is still up”, which means hapu should return home, says a Rongowhakaata website.

“It is said the hapu of this marae was never divided, always keeping together. If they happened to leave their camp they would always make sure to return while the sun was still up for fear of being caught by kehua (ghosts).”

Pahou Marae is “the beginning and the end”, says Albert Stewart of the Ngati Maru subtribe.

“We are born there through our ancestry and we return there when we die.”



MARAE GOES GLOBAL: Te Pahou Marae at Manutuke is now part of Google Earth’s This is Home virtual tour project. This is an image from the virtual tour of the interior. Pictures supplied
Albert Stewart of the Ngati Maru subtribe, stands next to one of the carved amo at the front of the building.
Front of the marae’s wharepuni.
Te Pahou Marae gate.