Waikato-Tainui and the NZ Transport Agency have today unveiled plans for the symbolic restoration of the historic Rangiriri Paa at a ceremony at the site.
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 to explore the area’s history.
The new 4.8km Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway has moved SH1 to the west providing the opportunity to reinstate the historically important area.
The Transport Agency’s Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Director Parekawhia McLean says the Transport Agency has worked closely with Waikato-Tainui to preserve the cultural and historical significance of Rangiriri.
“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,” Ms McLean says.
Work gets under way shortly with earthworks to fill in the cutting which was part of the now disused SH1.
Waikato-Tainui Te Arataura Chairman Rahui Papa says the symbolic restoration is a genuine commitment by the Government to recognise and provide for cultural and heritage matters.
“The site is significant to the nation as it is to the Kiingitanga and the collaborative approach to finalising a plan has taken some time to complete.
“The return of the soil into the now old SH1 provides some closure to the elders of the nation who have harboured the pain of this road since its building in the 1960s.
“Friday provides some closure and healing for them also,” Mr Papa says.
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.
It was severed by the construction of the then SH1 in the early 1960s.
The $750,000 restoration is part of the $105 million Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway.
The Waikato Expressway is one of the Government’s seven Roads of National Significance. The Expressway will improve safety and reliability and reduce travel time and congestion on State Highway 1 by delivering a four-lane highway from the Bombay Hills to the south of Cambridge.
The project team is making good progress at the Rangiriri section of the Expressway. New connections have recently opened at Te Kauwhata and an off-ramp has opened at Murphy Street. At 8pm on Monday 26 September the right turn in and out of the highway at Rangiriri will be closed permanently, with access to the village from the north or the nearby interchange.