Two pou whenua have been unveiled and blessed by Waikato-Tainui along part of the Ngaruawahia section of the Waikato Expressway.
The pou are at Lake Areare and at the Kainui wetlands, both adjacent to the expressway.
The pou tell the story of Waikato-Tainui’s links to the area and complement four pou erected on the nearby Waikato River bridge when the Ngaruawahia section opened in late 2013.
Waikato-Tainui’s master carver and a team finished the final two pou recently and they were installed ahead of the blessing on July 4.
The project’s tangata whenua working group say storyboards will be erected to convey the history and ancestral links which the pou represent.
These will be placed where there is public access – on the walkway/cycleway under the Waikato River bridge and at Lake Areare which is accessible via Ormsby Road.
“The pou erected on the eastern corner of Lake Areare has significant meaning to the ancestry of Ngati Mahuta. And the pou at Kainui acknowledges Te Kahumatuku – an old pa site behind the current Taupiri Marae,” says Waikato-Tainui Chief Executive Parekawhia McLean.
NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager Kaye Clark says the Transport Agency has worked closely with Waikato-Tainui to lessen the project’s footprint in sensitive places like the river, streams and wetlands.
“It’s important for the Transport Agency to respond to the environmental and cultural aspects of the land we build our roads through,” Mrs Clarke says.
“The only way we can do that is by building relationships with the community and iwi to get a better understanding of the area and the history. We appreciate the strong relationship we have built with Waikato Tainui through the expressway project.”
“Through our work with Waikato-Tainui we now have a better understanding of the significance of the land and it’s great to be able to make the history of the area more accessible to future generations,” Mrs Clark says.
“We also have pou planned for Cambridge, Huntly and Rangiriri sections of the expressway to mark where the project passes culturally sensitive sites.”