The University of Otago has contributed to the building of a new wharekai and teaching rooms at Onuku marae on the Bank Peninsula.
The financial contribution follows a decade of students visiting the marae in their first fortnight of study in Christchurch. In the past students have slept and learned in the wharenui as well as in a marquee erected on marae grounds.
Students come to Christchurch from Dunedin in their fourth year of medical training.
The new teaching rooms will be used to support medical students’ orientation to Christchurch and Hauora Maori teaching. It is intended postgraduate students and staff will also now be able to take advantage of this new learning environment.
Strong bond between University and Onuku marae
Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama of the University of Otago, Christchurch’s Maori/Indigenous Health Institute says it has a strong relationship with the Banks Peninsula marae, which was further solidified after a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2014.
“The time at Onuku marae allows students who have been in Dunedin a chance to orient themselves to being in Canterbury and a safe place to learn their role in the health system as people who can make a difference to current health inequalities.”
Associate Professor Pitama says the site, 80 minutes drive from Christchurch, is of huge historical significance as one of three places in the South Island where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.