Motorists asked to be pou whenua guardians

By NZPA

Road users are being asked to act as guardians for two vandalised pou whenua which have been rebuilt and returned to their position on State Highway 36.
The Maori artworks, which were vandalised with a chainsaw in September, sit in the Mangorewa Gorge between Rotorua and Tauranga.
Pou whenua are carved posts placed strategically on the land to acknowledge and represent the relationship between tangata whenua, the people of the land, their ancestors and their environment or turangawaewae, place of standing.
The pou whenua were returned to their respective marae and rebuilt and repainted by their iwi, Rotorua's Ngati Rangiwewehi and Tauranga's Ngai Tamarawaho.
It was hoped that just as the pou whenua stood as guardians of the area, all road users would now become their guardians and watch over them, NZ Transport Agency state highway manager Rod James said.
"We're pleased to have them back in time for summer holiday road users to appreciate them.
"The pou whenua is a symbolic representation of safe passage through the Mangorewa Gorge for all travellers using this road."
Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winter said he was pleased to see the pou back where they belonged.
The vandals have not yet been identified and anyone with information should contact police.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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