New sculptures will encourage visitors to Ōtaki


Two ‘gateway’ sculptures – formally opened today at each end of Ōtaki as part of the State Highway 1 Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway (PP2Ō) project north of Wellington – will attract attention to the township and encourage people to exit the new expressway to visit.

A blessing led by local iwi (Ngā Hapū ō Ōtaki) was held at the sculpture at the southern end of Ōtaki township with representatives from Waka Kotahi, Kāpiti Coast District Council, the project, mana whenua and the community in attendance.

The sculpture is located on Old Hautere Road next to the shared pathway between Peka Peka and Ōtaki, while the sculpture at the northern end is located near the Ōtaki Main Road rail overbridge by the northbound expressway on-ramp. Both sculptures are highly visible to motorists on the expressway and local roads.

The three strands of each sculpture represent significant local waterways – the Waitohu, Mangapouri and the great Ōtaki River – winding together to meet in a circle at the top representing Tama-nui-te-rā, the sunny rays of Ōtaki. The strands also represent a kō, a Māori cultivation tool, linking into the rich history of horticulture and gardening in Ōtaki. The kō was also used as a weapon that commemorates the settlement of this district in the time of Te Rauparaha, thereby representing the three iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Ati Awa and Ngāti Raukawa. Stainless steel discs with cultural narrative and pictures etched on them have been embedded in the concrete foundations underneath the sculptures.

Standing six-metres high, each strand weighs around four tonnes. The sculptures have beautifully landscaped and planted areas surrounding them, with bench seats and pathways so members of the public can get up close.

Glen Prince, Waka Kotahi Principal Project Manager, credits the sculptures and the landscaping that surrounds them to the design and production teams involved – who worked closely with the artist, mana whenua and community groups – along with the PP2Ō Gateways Steering Group which provided guidance and helped progress the project.

“They’re fantastic landmarks for Ōtaki and the people who worked to create them should feel incredibly proud. It’s pleasing to see how large infrastructure projects like this can also leave behind a wonderful cultural legacy and enhance the environment within the areas and communities they touch.”

A time capsule – containing artefacts that represent the history of the project, as well as the history and culture of the area – has been buried near the sculpture at the southern end. The artefacts include items that were donated by the community and archaeological relics discovered on site during the earthworks phase of the expressway project. At night the sculptures will be gently illuminated, so will be able to be seen from another perspective with shadow and light at play.

Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway – key facts

  • The Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway – which opened to traffic on 23 December 2022 – is a four-lane expressway stretching approximately 13 kilometres from Peka Peka to north of Ōtaki (bypassing the township with northbound and southbound off-ramp exits to Ōtaki).
  • A key part of the Wellington Northern Corridor programme, the new road forms part of the Kāpiti Expressway – connecting with the 18km MacKay’s to Peka Peka expressway section and the 27km Transmission Gully motorway.
  • The Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway improves road safety in the area, reduces congestion on local roads, ensures more reliable journey times and enables more efficient movement of increasing freight volumes.
  • Along with the construction of the road itself:
    • nine bridges and two underpasses have been built, including a new Ōtaki River Bridge with a shared path
    • a 10km off-road shared path for cyclists/pedestrians/equestrians has been created, linking a shared path network through the Kāpiti District (note: safety works are still being carried out on the path and it’s expected to be opened in March)
    • 107 streetlights have been erected
    • 50+kms of safety barrier have been installed
    • more than 50 culverts and six new wetlands have been constructed
    • around 10km of local roads have been created.