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Whitianga footbridge stepping back into action

Construction of a wooden footbridge, which crosses the Taputaputea steam to Buffalo Beach Whitianga, will resume in February.

Good progress was made when work started on the footbridge in October last year, but was paused while Heritage NZ requested a formal cultural values assessment from local iwi Ngāti Hei, which delayed the earthworks consent approval. Heritage NZ is deemed an affected party of this Wahi Tapu (sacred) site.

Over the peak Christmas and New Year break, the site of the footbridge has been fenced off, with work now resuming in the next few weeks.

"As part of the consent process for this project, our Council asked local iwi Ngāti Hei how we could best represent and help locals and visitors appreciate and respect the cultural significance of this area,” says Allan Tiplady, our Area Manager North.

This has included working with Ngāti Hei on several pieces of art that we are proposing to install at the site along with signage to illustrate and convey its importance. The artwork agreed on incorporates brustic bridge balustrade, vertical carvings fixed to each balustrade post, two small māori pataka (store houses) plus the Waharoa.

"The Taputapuatea Stream area has significant cultural and ecological importance as a sacred landing site of voyaging waka, and as a foreshore sanctuary, so we ask users of this site to appreciate and respect this area for its importance to us all," says Mr Tiplady.

An archaeological study tells us: “The site beside Taputapuatea stream is at the base of a hill that is home to Te Wahine Moeroa o Taputapuatea Pa. The location has significant links to Taputapuatea Marae on the coast of Raiatea, Tahiti, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the waka- voyaging ancestors who crossed the Pacific and established themselves in Aotearoa. It is said that Kupe, the great Polynesian explorer who voyaged to Aotearoa from Hawaiki, bathed in the hot springs of Te Whitianga a Kupe after he moored his waka in Mercury Bay. He named the stream and pa after the Tahitian Taputapuatea marae because of its similar natural flora and fauna. Rapanui (Easter Island), Hawaii, Arahurahu Island in Tahiti, Moorea Island and a reef in the Kermedec Islands all have sites of significance referring to Taputapuatea.”

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