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Whatonga Sculpture Blessed this Morning

Whatonga Sculpture Blessed this Morning


A significant cultural project for the Manawatu Gorge Biodiversity group finally came to fruition today with the blessing of a significant Rangitāne steel sculpture, known as Whatonga next to the gorge track.

Whatonga is a contemporary sculpture, funded by the Manawatu Gorge Biodiversity stakeholder group, which was originally commissioned about five years ago. It depicts historical seafarer and Rangitāne Chief Whatonga who first came to these shores in the 12th Century, one of the Captains of the Kurahaupo Waka.

“The purpose of the Gorge project is to enhance the biodiversity, recreational, scenic and cultural values of the gorge,” says Gorge landowner and biodiversity group member Tom Shannon.

“Whatonga does just that, it identifies the spirit of the gorge and its iwi connection.”

Members from Rangitāne o Manawatu and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a Rua undertook the blessing this morning.

Whatonga has been installed on the highest point of the Gorge track, facing out towards Castlepoint. The sculpture is of an impressive scale reaching 6.2m high, 1.5m across and 1.2m deep and as it is made of steel it will be able to withstand the elements.

The sculpture also features intricate pattern work which depicts the significant sailing history of Whatonga and if you look carefully enough, logos of all the Gorge project partners can be found.

Sculpture Paul Horton is pleased to see his hard work come to life after many years.

“It was a very spiritual and moving moment for the Iwi” says Tanenuiarangi Manawatu Incorporated, Chief Executive, Danielle Harris. “Recognition of Whatonga as a significant Tupuna in this Region is long overdue and a positive step in strengthening Rangitāne mana in the Region”

Signage in the new Te Apiti branding has also been installed telling the history of Whatonga and the stories within the sculpture itself.

The installation of Whatonga is one of a number of projects instigated by the Manawatu Gorge Biodiversity group. The website www.teapiti.com is now up and running, signage throughout the gorge will be updated with the new branding, work is underway on new cycle areas in the gorge and above the Bridge Café and a trial bus has running shuttles every weekend from Palmerston North until the end of March.

“All of these activities enhance the gorge experience for locals and visitors to our region,” says Mr. Shannon,

“This is so heartening as we want to show off one of our most valuable assets.”

More information on Te Apiti Manawatu Gorge can be found at www.teapiti.com.


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