CHB council welcomes $2.8m Government investment in pā sites project
By Astrid Austin, AustinMedia
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 1:30 PM
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has welcomed a more than $2 million Provincial Growth Fund investment into bringing historic pā sites “back to life” through an “authentic cultural tourism experience”.
Under Secretary of Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced the investment of $2.798 million towards the Ngā Ara Tipuna - Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project in front of dignitaries and visitors today.
Interpreted as “our ancestral pathways and connections”, the project will showcase the network of six pā sites surrounding Waipukurau.
Tabuteau said it aims to create a sense of belonging, connection and understanding with the local community in regard to the pā sites.
This significant cultural heritage project will inform visitors about the history of six pā sites in Waipukurau with a combination of whare korero (carved gathering spaces), pou whenua (carved posts), interpretative signage and digital storytelling unique to Central Hawke’s Bay.
“PGF funding will be used to tell the story of how iwi came to the area and what these pā sites were used for. The areas are archaeologically, spiritually and culturally significant, and these pā sites are of particular importance to hāpu and whānau in the area and in the wider regions,” Tabuteau said.
“Ngā Ara Tipuna plans to use the voices of real people to tell the stories of their ancestors in a way that stays true to tikanga Māori. Our Māori heritage needs the likes of Ngā Ara Tipuna to keep our stories alive, our culture vibrant and our people connected.”
Council chief executive, Monique Davidson said it is an important cultural heritage initiative and positive catalyst for tourism growth – generating employment, boosting tourism and the local economy, including the Māori economy.
Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea in partnership with Central Hawke’s Bay District Council (CHBDC) and Tamatea Hapū will receive up to $2,798,000 of PGF investment for the project. A further $1 million dollars of funds will be raised locally towards the $3.8 million dollar project.
The injection of funds, follows initial investment of $119,764 into the project’s business case last year. It was part of the $35.5 million announcement of PGF investment for Central Hawke’s Bay made in June 2019.
Tabuteau said the Coalition Government was pleased to see this project progress from the PGF-funded business case into the next stage of construction.
“Having also attended the launch of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council 3D Aquifer Mapping Project today, also funded by the PGF, I’m confident we are making good progress in Central Hawke’s Bay and in the wider region.”
Brian Morris, Project Lead for Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea said this project is an important step to acknowledging the long-established historical connection of Māori to Waipukurau and the Tamatea district.
“Its significance to Māori was summed this week by one of our kuia who said, ‘this is the most exciting thing that has happened in my lifetime’,” Morris said.
Work on the development of the digital story telling will commence in February, with construction occurring in two phases. Phase one construction is planned to commence in mid-2020 and will focus on the development of the largest pā site, Pukekaihau.
Phase two will begin in early 2021 identifying the remaining five pā sites, Te Waipukurau, Kaimanawa, Kaitoroa, Ruatangaroa, and Moana-i-rokia.
Planning for Phase 3 of the project is already underway, that will include wider district pā sites and business opportunities that complement the project.
The project expects to create 16 new jobs once finished and attract up to 15,000 visitors annually by its fifth year of operation.
“The economic benefits of this project for a town the size of Waipukurau are huge because of the boost to employment and tourism,” Tabuteau said.
While reclaiming the stories of the people of Tamatea, the project aims to provide a cultural narrative for the District that encourages collective community identity, while positively influencing the local economy and links to other projects in neighbouring rohe, supporting tourism and Māori economic development.
Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker noted the significance of the project, and the opportunities it would create for Tamatea/Central Hawke’s Bay.
“The importance of this project to the people of Tamatea is more than significant – it is simply quite overwhelming,” she said.
“While we may stand upon this unassuming hill top in Tamatea, it is the reawakening of the stories of these unassuming places such as Pukekaihau and other taonga, that will once again etch the important place of Mana Whenua on our landscape and enrich our people in so many ways.
“Through Project Thrive we heard from our community the importance of this project and providing for a Central Hawke’s Bay of the future. We are proud to have been working hand in hand with Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea and hapū repesentatives to develop Ngā Ara Tipuna, to see Tamatea reawakened.”
Hawke’s Bay Tourism CEO Hamish Saxton said he expects the project to be a “valuable asset” to the visitor experience in the region.
Domestic travellers, as well as visitors to New Zealand, are increasingly drawn to Māori heritage and cultural experiences, he added.
“Visitors to Waipukurau will have the opportunity to learn the stories of the people of Tamatea and their sustainable environmental relationships with the land, lakes, and river.”
These stories provide a connection between the area's rich heritage and our contemporary communities, he said.
“Interpretation at the historic pa site will encourage visitors to stop in Waipukurau in order to gain a greater understanding of the region.
“A reason to spend more time in a destination often results in a greater economic benefit through increased spend.”