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Christchurch City Council Community Plan
Riccarton/Wigram 2002 Edition
Community Plans index > Riccarton/Wigram index

Multicultural Centre - Te Whare O Nga Whetu

Tumatauenga Kapa Haka Group
The Tumatauenga Kapa Haka Group performing at the opening of the Multicultural Centre.

The multicultural centre Te Whare O Nga Whetu was opened in 2001

Several hundred people representing about 20 different nationalities were present and it was a positive beginning to a new enterprise.

The Centre is attracting a large number of people. The management team are keen to promote the Centre for a range of cultural and social issues.

In its mission statement Council expresses the desire to be:
(a) responsive to local need
(b) to give strong expression to local identity.

The establishment of a multicultural centre not only meets those two statements, but, strengthens Councilís drive for effective community governance and the delivery of community-driven initiatives.

How did the Multicultural Centre come about?

Project Process

In December 1997, an independent researcher, Nona Milburn, completed a needs analysis of the Broomfield area.

Results from this report highlighted the "lack of local amenities, opportunities to meet or know what is on, and facilities for activities. Workers in the area emphasised the social isolation and separation of groups as the greatest concern as well as the lack of access to services (health and social) in the central city, support groups, places to meet".

A report by Kath Jamieson (Senior Researcher, Christchurch City Council) on poverty and hardship also identified this geographical area as one experiencing high levels of poverty and hardship.

Isolation was again stressed as one of the significant factors associated with those on limited incomes. This area has significantly higher proportions of both Maori and Pacific Island residents (12.7% and 5.3% respectively), and a high proportion of both single parent households and residents whose income is less than $20,000 pa.

The Riccarton/Wigram Community Board contracted Family and Community Division of Anglican Care to provide two community development workers to address the needs identified, through a community development process. The main task of the Maori Community Worker was to identify the needs of the local Maori community. The outcome was a series of hui which again highlighted the need for a communal place to meet in the Broomfield Hei Hei area.

Early in 2000 the Riccarton/Wigram Community Board formed a Working Party to explore the setting up of a multi cultural centre.


The original Working Party comprised four elected members, two Council Advocacy Team members, three representatives of the local Maori community and one community worker from Anglican Care.

The involvement of local Maori came about as the result of a series of hui which not only identified the need, but established who would work towards the project implementation. Progress on the project was also fed back on a monthly basis to the local residents association.

Innovation And Originality

When the need for a centre was first raised as a result of the research, the Community Board and the local community assumed that Council would build a new building on a local reserve.

It became clear to the Working Party that the economy of a purpose-built centre would mean that the community would face a long wait while Council processes established the budget and went through the planning process.

The Riccarton/Wigram Community Board has a positive relationship with the local Presbyterian Church in Hei Hei. The church advised us that they were to sell a neighbourhood church and associated buildings from where they had delivered their social service outreach.

They had built a new facility on another site. This gave the Council and local community the opportunity to buy an existing complex in the area.

The building was assessed by Councilís Property Unit. Requests were made through the Working Party and Community Board for Council financial support and an application was made to the Community Trust for money for refurbishing the buildings.

In August 2000 the Council approved the purchase. The Working Party now had to determine how the centre would be operated.

It was decided to set up a trust that would manage the new centre.

Te Whare O Nga Whetu Charitable trust was legally established in September 2001. In March 2002 the Trust employed a Co-ordinator, Wene Hepi to oversee the day to day running of the multi cultural centre.

The Vision of Te Whare O Nga Whetu Multicultural Centre

To provide a multicultural centre which will embrace all people.

The protocol is Maori.

Our kaupapa is to encourage the sharing of culture, skills and knowledge.

The Goals

Goals for the Centre are to:

  1. Create a place where all cultures can meet in a safe and friendly environment.
  2. Provide a linkage between all cultural groups and the local community.
  3. Encourage the local community to actively participate in and contribute to the life of the centre.
  4. Promote and enhance the quality of life of the local community through appropriate programmes, services and activities.
  5. Promote and encourage equitable access to the centre.

Waiata group ready to perform
A Waiata group ready to perform at the Multicultural Centreís opening ceremony.

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