Established in 1994 on Kirikiriroa Marae, Te Kōhao was a joint venture between Kirikiriroa Marae and the Union Trust. King Kiingi Tuheitia is the Patron of Kirikiriroa Marae, and his wife Te Atawhai Paki is the Patron of Te Kōhao. Kirikiriroa Marae adheres to the tikanga and kawa of Tainui of tauutuutu or tu mai tu atu is taken from the whakatauki of the first Māori King, Pōtatatau Te Wherowhero:
“Kotahi ano te kōhao o te ngira. E kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango, te miro whero. I muri i ahau, kia mau ki te aroha, ki te ture me te whakapono.”
There is but one eye of the needle through which the white, black and red threads must pass. After I am gone, hold fast to the love, to the law, and to the faith. Literally, Te Kōhao means the eye of the needle or entrance way for everyone, no matter what their iwi, ethnicity, religion or language. All are welcome here. Te Kōhao was born from He moemoe nga Kirikiriroa Marae Whanau, that recognised the Marae as a natural gathering place for urban Māori and whānau from all other ethnicities. Seeds were sewn to develop the Marae to meet the needs of whānau by giving them urban access to all aspects of living including cultural, social, health, justice and education services.
In the paternal context, Kirikiriroa Marae gave birth to Te Kōhao and nurtured it in its infancy to grow healthy and be useful. This has achieved a moemoea to develop the Marae as a one stop shop for the benefit and wellbeing of whānau. As the demand for services are increased, our Kaumatua Wikuki Kingi in his wisdom encouraged Te Kōhao to design and build a facility to accommodate. It was now time for Te Kōhao to leave home and grow up in the world.