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To deliver this project, the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is partnering with iwi mana whenua, 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 Taranaki Whānui 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
  • Levi RonaTaranaki Whānui
  • Jenny Ngarimu – Ngāti Toa Rangatira
  • Kesh KeshaboinaWaka Kotahi
  • Ulvi SalayevWaka Kotahi
Five Te Ara Tupua mana whenua steering group members standing in a row and looking at the camera.

Left to right: Lee Hunter, Kesh Keshaboina, Kim Skelton, Levi Rona and Ulvi Salayev.

“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’.