Tribute seat at Arapuni dam has special history

A large seat, erected last weekend high above the Arapuni dam on the Waikato River, has a special significance for the south-Waikato region.

Concreted into place, the seat commemorates 25 years of teaching service by Don and Pat Hine at the nearby Waotu primary school, south-west of Putaruru, from 1956 to 1980.

It has been installed at the top of the Waoutu South Road access track which drops steeply down a 150-metre hill-face to the Waikato River Trails walking and cycling track below.

The seat was made by Darren Englebrecht, a woodwork specialist from Waiuku whose family previously lived at Waotu. The timber used came from a 154-year-old oak tree blown down in a storm across the Auckland Domain in 2004.

The acorn from which the oak grew was one of a number given to a prominent Aucklander by Queen Victoria about 1850.

Two daughters of Mr and Mrs Hine, Tui Cox and Ann Lee, commissioned the building of the seat, and Mrs Lee's husband, Beau, made its metal frame. It is also dedicated to Bruce Hine, brother of the two sisters, who was lost at sea at Whangamata with three others in 1979.

"It's beyond our expectations," said Mrs Cox, at a small ceremony at the site.

"Our parents came to Waoutu after teaching at Matauri Bay in Northland, and Whareponga on the East Coast. They came here for three years, and stayed for 25.

"We hope people using the Waikato River Trail will pause to sit here and reflect on the view and perhaps the memory of our parents who were so keen to help the children they taught at Waotu school."

The Waikato River Trails stretch 103km along the Waikato River from Atiamuri in the south to Karapiro in the north.

General manager for the trails, Glyn Wooller, says construction began on the walking and cycling tracks eight years ago, and they were opened in November last year.

"In just 12 months more than 24,000 people have used various stretches of the trail - it's fantastic, and it's absolutely free."

For more information, contact Glyn Wooller, 027 642-9399;

- Hamilton News

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