Bruce Stewart QSM, Rangatira and founder of Tapu Te Ranga Marae is of Waitaha ki Te Arawa and Ngāti Kirihika ki Raukawa descent. Bruce was an award-winning hunter, builder, singer, playwright and Māori indigenous-rights activist who envisaged a place where people could reconnect with Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother and learn about Māori culture.
In prison, Bruce read about two people from which he drew inspiration. The first Cliff Whiting who described the Marae as being a spiritual, social, cultural and economic base. This moved Bruce to recite on numerous occasions…"The Marae is my home; it is my place of work, The Marae is my kindergarten right through to my university; It is my museum, my church, my art gallery, It is where I was born and where I will be buried." The second was Suzanne Aubert who healed and helped the Māori people alongside the Sisters of the Home of Compassion in Whanganui. Incidentally, Bruce became neighbours with the Sister's Home of Compassion in Island Bay and both supported each other's kaupapa and visions.
In 1974 he embarked on his dream. The Marae became a "place to belong" for numerous Māori who moved from the provinces to the city in the 1960's and 1970's. He named the Marae after Island Bay's Tapu Te Ranga Island, which means the "sacred rising." After a lifetime of service to the community, Bruce passed away in June 2017. His whānau worked with the government and iwi authorities to arrange his burial on the Marae whenua (land), thus fulfilling his last wish and his whakataukī (proverb)..."It is where I was born and where I will be buried."