To deliver this project, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is partnering with iwi who hold mana whenua around Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington Harbour), Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Taranaki Whānui website – link)
Ngāti Toa Rangatira website – link)

Our partnership

Through the partnership between iwi and Waka Kotahi, a steering group has been set up to guide the project.

The members of the Te Ara Tupua Mana Whenua Steering Group are:

  • Kim Skelton (Chairperson)Taranaki Whānui
  • Lee HunterTaranaki Whānui
  • Jenny Ngarimu – Ngāti Toa Rangatira
  • Kesh Keshaboina – Waka Kotahi
  • Ulvi Salayev – Waka Kotahi

The project delivery team, Te Ara Tupua Alliance, includes a team responsible for integrating iwi into the project. Uri (descendants) are represented at all levels of the project.

Left to right: Lee Hunter, Levi Rona (Iwi Integration Manager), Kim Skelton (chairperson), Kesh Keshaboina, Jenny Ngarimu, Ulvi Salayev, Len Hetet (Cultural Design Lead). Pictured at Honiana Te Puni Reserve.

“For Taranaki Whānui this project is about setting a strong foundation and high standards for a long-term partnership that will create community infrastructure which speaks directly about our stories of identity and our values as iwi mana whenua.” – Kim Skelton, Mana Whenua Steering Group chairperson

Naming Te Ara Tupua

Through this partnership, the project was gifted the name Te Ara Tupua. This refers to Ngake and Whātaitai, the two tupua (ancient phenomena) who created Te Whanganui a Tara in Māori mythology.

Te Ara Tupua motif

Te Ara Tupua motif

The tupua lived in a freshwater lake at te Upoko o te Ika (the head of the great fish of Maui) – the bottom of the North Island. They eventually outgrew the lake and planned to escape to the ocean beyond its edges. Their escape created the landforms of the harbour we see today.

Te Ara Tupua traces parts of the paths forged by the tupua as they struggled – the thrash of Ngake’s tail created Te Awakairangi, the Hutt River, while Whataitai’s path to the west created the coastline from Korokoro towards Wellington City.

Prise open the great mouth of the fish of Maui
Summoning from the depths of the fresh water lake
Come forth the two ancient phenomena Ngake and Whataitai
Giving birth to ‘Te Ara Tupua’.

Mana whenua design

The Tupua name and narrative have been reflected in the design of features of the shared path, ranging from planned pou and sculpture, to markings that will be added on the surface of the shared path. This work has been led by iwi cultural designer Len Hetet who is working within the project team alongside architects and engineers.

In addition, the path will reflect sites of significance to Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui. Ngā Ūranga and Pito-One were the sites of three of several Te Āti Awa Pā, or settlements at the time the first European settlers arrived in the area. These three Pā – Ngā Ūranga, Te Tatau o te Pō and Pito-One – were under the leadership of two rangatira, Te Wharepouri and his cousin Honiana Te Puni. Both rangatira signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi on 29 April 1840.

These rangatira will be recognised at both ends of the project near the locations of the pā they were leaders of. Honiana Te Puni Reserve will be the gateway to the new pathway – where there will be stronger Taranaki Whānui presence through the proposed structures, buildings and artworks. At Ngā Ūranga, the design of the new rail overbridge will honour Te Wharepouri.

Honiana Te Puni Reserve