2018 National Conference
Te Rau Aroha Cottage
Maori Women’s Welfare League 66th Hui a Tau – Tairawhiti 2018
Te Rau Aroha Cottage (pictured) is our national Maori Women’s Welfare League asset that was opened in 1966 by the then National President Ruiha Sage. Situated at Te Puia Springs, Tairawhiti, we believe it is fitting that the cottage is the focus for the MWWL National Conference 2018.
The history of Te Rau Aroha Cottage dates back to the 1930s when people came from afar to visit patients at Te Puia Hospital. Road transport on the East Coast was mainly of the four-legged variety as conditions were atrocious with streams to ford and mud to contend with.
Fundraising for a building to shelter visitors to Te Puia Hospital began when the women-folk noticed that public accommodation in Te Puia was scarce and expensive. In the 1930’s the fundraising project got underway, but World War 2 interrupted progress and the project was only resumed in 1962. Further funds were secured, the house was built and MWWL President Ruiha Sage (pictured) opened the doors for business.
Our asset was named after the mobile canteen Te Rau Aroha which was used by the Maori Battalion that was based at Tobruk on the border of Libya.
The similarities between the cottage and canteen soon became evident.
Te Rau Aroha Mobile Canteen with its offerings of tobacco, chocolate, and radio broadcasts was a place of solace in World War 2 for the soldiers so far away from home. It was purchased in New Zealand with donations from children in Native Schools and Its inscription ‘He tohu aroha na nga tamariki o nga Kura Maori o Niu Tireni ki te Ope Whawhai o te Iwi Maori e tau mai ra i te Pae o te Pakanga i te Mura o te Ahi’, brought many a tear to the eyes of the soldiers when it arrived in Tobruk. The Canteen was operated by the YMCA Representative Charles Basil Bennet (Charlie YM) and after the war, Charlie YM drove Te Rau Aroha mobile canteen to every school that had contributed money towards the truck.
Te Rau Aroha Cottage was also to become a place of solace; this time for those whanau along the East Coast who had to travel long distances in order to comfort, console and cheer loved ones in Te Puia Springs Hospital. The services at the hospital have changed as have road conditions and the mobility of our people, so now our National MWWL asset is available for day and overnight accommodation, mainly for people living outside the Te Puia Springs area. Tawhiti Branch Member Sharon Harrison, caretakes the humble facility with much love and constant care, and also takes bookings.
On 25 May 2015, in her panui ki te motu, Madam National President Prue Kapua shared that National Office MWWL would take care of the insurance of our national asset. This was a welcome and formal acknowledgement that the National Council MWWL had a responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of its asset. Tawhiti Branch and Tairawhiti invite you all to make the time to call in on Te Rau Aroha Cottage, should you travel near Te Puia Springs. Come and get to know her and let her feel your aroha.
Ko te pae tawhiti,whaia kia tata. Seek out distant horizons.
Ko te pae tata,whakamaua kia tina. And cherish those you attain!
This beautiful asset
Te Rau Aroha Cottage
Has the potential to be developed
The opportunity is there for us all
To nurture that development
Arohanui na te Tairawhiti