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Te Waka Huhua unveiling and blessing Thursday morning

The second public art sculpture of the Te Matau-a-Maui Art & Heritage Trail will be officially unveiled on Thursday October 31 at the Clifton Rd Reserve, Te Awanga by Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst with Haumoana School performing an original song about valuing the environment.

The Waka of Plenty (Te Waka Huhua) created by Hawke’s Bay artist Ricks Terstappen for the Cape Coast Arts and Heritage Trust represents the abundance of produce from the land and sea from early Maori fishing villages and kumara pits to cropping, orchards and farming over many generations.

The Te Matau-a-Māui Art and Heritage Trail which runs from Black Bridge to Clifton won the Art in Public Places Award at the Hastings Landmarks Trust Awards in August and the first installation The Elixir of Life located beside the Haumoana Hall was highly commended.

The Waka of Plenty (Te Waka Huhua) will be blessed by kaumatua Tom Mulligan and representatives from Matahiwi marae who are kaitiaki of the area, and Haumoana School Choir will sing their original song Poi Poi-a, about ‘sowing the seed’, an environmental song fitting perfectly with the theme of abundant produce represented in the large steel sculpture.

The Waka of Plenty (Te Waka Huhua), the second of eight to be installed along the trail affirms the region’s branding that “Great things grow here”.

The Cape Coast is an ideal climate, fertile soil and long growing season and its fishing season, evidenced when the gannets arrive from early October with regular ‘boil-ups’ and hopeful locals and visitors with their lines out along the beach.

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Once the swampy lowlands were broken in and European sheep farms were divided into smaller blocks, land at the Cape Coast was used for cropping, market gardens and orchards.

Before WW1, Gerhard Husheer grew 200 acres of tobacco from Parkhill down to the coast. The area was singled out for wine industry development in a 1903 report from government expert Romeo Bragato. The earliest vintner, Anthony Vidal, learned the craft in Whanganui from his uncle, acclaimed winemaker, Joseph Soler. Vidal, found the climate and river gravels ideal for grapes, establishing a vineyard in 1915 at the present-day site of Clearview Estate Winery.

Later, adjoining blocks grew grass seed and provided peas, corn, tomatoes, beetroot, apricots, peaches and other produce for the canneries of James Nelson Williams and James Wattie.

This coastal region with its Mediterranean conditions and warm sea air is today one of Hawke’s Bay’s primary winegrowing areas.

Cape Coast winemaking experienced a resurgence from the 1980s with the success of Clearview Estate, Te Awanga Estate, Beach House Wines and Elephant Hill producing white and red wines with considerable body and intensity of flavour.

The public are welcome to attend the opening which takes place at 11.30am, Thursday 31 October.

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