Tapu Te Ranga Marae

Tapu Te Ranga Marae is a "living" marae in Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand. It is the home of author Bruce Stewart, his family and various friends. The Marae is listed as a heritage site.

Stewart bought the whenua (land) to set it free from private ownership. Tikanga (principles) of kaitiaki (caretaker protector nurturer) govern the marae. Starting in 1974, Bruce worked alongside unemployed Maori youth, some were "sleeping out", all without skills. They salvaged native timbers usually ‘balled’ and ‘crunched’, restored and shaped by their hands.

For over three decades they persevered. It is back from the brink of extinction. Now it is a strong social, artistic, cultural and environmental statement. Living Maori in today’s world. “We could not have done it without the support of many good people in the community special mention of Sir Michael Fowler.” says Bruce.

Testament of Maori youth, making the impossible come true, their turangawaewae (standing place); without it they have no place to stand. They did what all poor people do; use everyone’s rubbish. The world's largest and tallest fully wooden house built of recycled materials—fully wooden is of wooden structure on wooden piles. There are ten levels, 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2), 131 feet (40 m) high. Thousands visit the marae from all corners of the earth.

The marae is set in 50 acres (200,000 m2). Most of it has been planted with native trees sourced from remnants of the original forest; 100,000 trees have been planted. Native birds are slowly returning. Manawa Karioi, good people from the local community, manage the reforestation. “It’s our church…sitting there breathing deeply the fragrances of a vigorous teen-aged forest…listening to the many sounds of silence…more and more native birds appear…sometimes they sing…it all flutters the heart,” says Bruce.


The main tupuna whare (ancestral house) is Parehinetai o Waitaha. The whare rambles up the hill on many levels, a strong social, environmental and artistic statement. She was built out of need by young unemployed Maori.

is the whakatauki (proverb).


Excerpt from Robyn Kahukiwa's book The Art of Robyn Kahukiwa:


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