Ngā Kete Wānanga was opened in 1999 for Manukau Institute of Technology's students and staff. It incorporates a wharenui (Te Kete Uruuru Matua), a wharekai (Tahua Roa), classrooms and offices. Te Kete Uruuru Matua is the centre of the marae complex and features 75 individual carvings by Ngati Porou master carver Dr Paakariki Harrison.
In 1987, Manukau Institute of Technology was challenged to establish a marae on its premises. When Te Tari Mātauranga Māori was established in 1991, its first Matua Kaiwhakahaere, Hapimana Rikihana, took responsibility for moving the project forward. After much discussion and negotiation Te Uruuru Whenua (the turning of the turf) took place on 27 March 1997. A piece of bare soil was symbolically removed, to be returned when construction of the wharenui began. At the same time a totara tree was planted, giving new life to the ground on which the marae was to be built.
On 26 May 1998, Te Tuku Mauri dawn service was held prior to concreting the floor of the wharenui; a taonga, a pounamu tangiwai, was placed in the floor under the pou along with a symbolic piece of soil. The purpose of the ritual was to guide and protect all those who would be involved in the marae complex; thus, the mauri is established as the sacred heart of the complex. Ngā Kete Wānanga was officially opened on the 23rd of April 1999, by Honourable Tau Henare, Minister of Māori Affairs.