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down at the marae

From Habitat magazine - issue 11

An award-winning makeover programme using Resene paints is now in its sixth series.

It’s 5am and the local Maori community has gathered at the marae. After six years of selling hangi and rewana bread, they’ve finally pulled together enough money to give their much loved wharenui a face-lift with a new kitchen and the grounds a welcomed landscape.

One of the marae makeovers that features on the show. The building walls are in Resene China Ivory while the roof to the left is Resene Pioneer Red.

Ever wondered what happens on any one of the hundreds of marae up and down the country? Here’s your chance to be a fly on the wall.

Add to the mix of culture and quintessential Maori humour, a massive landscaping and building project with limited time and resources, and you have an award-winning television programme – Marae DIY.

The top-rating show, supported by companies including Resene, has been drawing Maori and Pakeha audiences to Maori TV for the past five years and in March 2009 hit the road once again to makeover six marae from Picton in the south to Pawarenga in the north.

“It’s a big commitment,” says David Clayton-Greene, who’s been landscaping on the programme since the first series. He says the challenges that Marae DIY presents are at times terrifying, but ultimately incredibly rewarding. “We have just four days to pull the marae apart and then painstakingly rebuild, repaint and landscape each marae complex.”

David’s partner in crime is Monty Ritai, who takes care of the building side of things. The two often have to think outside the square because of the remoteness of many of the locations. Lack of budget and resources often mean they have to use some innovative approaches.

“We beg, borrow and steal whatever the local community will give us and use a lot of natural resources from the land,” says David. “It’s always done with a lot of creativity, enthusiasm and laughter.”

And while that’s going on, a group of the kuia (female elders) are whisked away to get a well-deserved makeover.

The bilingual series incorporates tribal and marae history as well as traditional practices such as kai-gathering, weaving, whakairo and ta moko. The show’s two main presenters, Te Ori Paki and newcomer, Aroha Hathaway (from Good Morning) help weave the stories of the marae and its people seamlessly through the DIY genre.

In 2007 Marae DIY won best reality television format at the Qantas Media Awards over Police Ten 7 and NZ Idol.

“This show is only possible due to the tremendous and generous help that it receives from businesses and the community’s donation and discounting of products and services,” says David.

This year Resene donated paint for each of the six marae and assisted with discounts on accessories and other materials. David says Resene’s colour range, particularly the Resene Heritage colour collection, works really well with the diverse landscape settings of the marae.

DIY Marae runs on Sunday nights throughout October and early November. For a list of Resene products and colours used on the programme, visit

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Printed copies of habitat highlights are available from late March 2024 at Resene ColorShops and resellers, while stocks last. You can view back issues of habitat magazine online.

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