In 1959 the Marlborough Maori Community Club was formed to provide for the social and cultural needs of Maori people in and around Blenheim. In 1976 this group was granted the use of disused air force buildings at Omaka. Having a permanent location, Omaka began to develop in the real sense as a marae. Various groups were hosted, hui were held, and it became clear that full marae development was neccessary.
In 1981 Laurie Duckworth prepared a development plan and description for a comprehensive marae development. Community fundraising, a grant from the Department of Maori Affairs, and an interest free loan from the Ngai Tahu Maori Trust board all helped provide the necessary funding to get the project under way. Changes to the Crown leasehold nature of the property were also necessary to allow the development to proceed.
In addition to the physical rennovation and expansion of the buildings on the site, considerable effort has been put into determining how best to present the marae in cultural and tribal terms, by researching local history and traditions.
The Maori community involved with the marae come from a variety of different iwi, however these different groups have united under the Kakahu of the Rangitane mana whenua.
The official opening of the Whare Runanga (Meeting house) "Te Aroha O Te Waipounamu" was performed on Sunday 27th October, 1985.
Today, Omaka Marae is both a focal point for local Maori culture, and is involved in the wider community. During Christmas 2002 a family picnic and carol service involving local Christian groups was held on the Marae, as just one of the ways Omaka Marae is involved in the Blenheim community.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Kath Hemi for her assistance with providing information for this article.