On a warm afternoon on the last Sunday before Christmas a team of around 20 members and friends of Durham Street Methodist Church accepted an invitation to come over the hill to the small settlement of Rāpaki, which sits on the shores of Whakaraupō (Lyttelton Harbour) under the gaze of the mountain Te Poho o Tamatea (the breast of Tamatea). Today Rāpaki is home to Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke.
A pōwhiri warmly welcomed us onto the marae. In 2010 the rūnanga opened a new wharenui (carved meeting house) named Wheke which records the hapū and iwi history and traditions through ornate carvings, beautifully painted decorations and colourfully woven tukutuku panels. You can see more of the exquisite interior and some of the stunning setting of the Rapaki Marae in this video.
Then we feasted on an amazing Christmas dinner lovingly prepared for us, with locally caught kai moana and other delicacies, finishing up with a ‘trifle competition’ for desert. It was impossible to give too much praise or thanks to the impressive work of all in the kitchen.
We finished the evening by joining in the Rapaki Christmas Twilight Service in the nearby packed little historic chapel, led by Maui Stuart, with our Philo Kinera as guest speaker.