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Historic Rangiriri Paa to be restored

It doesn’t happen very often, if at all, that we celebrate the closing of a road, but that’s exactly what we did last month in a ceremony to mark the restoration of the historic Rangiriri Paa.

Over 170 people gathered to see the NZ Transport Agency and Waikato-Tainui unveil plans for the symbolic restoration of the Rangiriri Paa at a ceremony at the site.

The Paa site was the key landmark in the 1863 Battle of Rangiriri, which was a major engagement in the invasion of the Waikato, during the New Zealand Land Wars.

In the 1960s, the Paa was severed by the construction of State Highway 1 (SH1).

As part of the Waikato Expressway project, the new 4.8km Rangiriri section has moved SH1 to the west providing the opportunity to reinstate the historically important area.

During the ceremony, spades were handed out to Transport Agency representatives to begin filling a trench that ran the width of the closed state highway - a symbolic step towards the large restoration project.

The project will involve the removal and infilling of the old disused SH1 and an interpretation of the layout of the paa site using the old military survey to reveal the footprint at 1863.

Carved pou will mark the full line of the battle trench to help tell the story of the site and its history. A car-parking area will also be constructed to encourage people to spend time exploring the area’s history.

“Waikato-Tainui were heavily involved in the design process. We’ve worked together to come up with a plan that recognises the area’s history not only for Iwi but for all New Zealanders,” says Parekawhia McLean, Regional Director Waikato Bay of Plenty.

Work is due to get under way shortly and will be completed in 2017.

The $750,000 restoration is part of the $105 million Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway.

Ngaati Naho spokesman Brad Totorewa speaking to the gathering.

Ngaati Naho spokesman Brad Totorewa speaking to the gathering.