Five pou that stand as a historical reminder of Maori and early European settler history will be used to inspire young people to better connect with their heritage and look after parks and walking tracks around Taradale.
Representatives of Taradale and Puketapu Primary Schools together unveiled one of the pou at Dolbel Reserve in front of families and friends yesterday afternoon.
It was one of five officially opened to the public as part of a project by local hapu Ngati Paarau, the Napier City Council and Safer Napier.
A survey in 2010 found that people were reluctant to use public parks because they felt they were unsafe due to graffiti and vandalism. So the project, Te Ara o Nga Tipuna (the pathways of the ancestors), was set up to encourage more people to use the parks and reserves.
Five sites were selected including Riverside Park, Otatara Pa, Tareha Reserve and Dolbel Reserve.
A pou stands at each site with a story board.
Principals of the two schools said the pou would help pupils understand more about the historical significance of the reserves and encourage young people to be the kaitiaki, or custodians, of the parks.
Artist Roberta Hawaikirangi, who designed the five pou with help from local primary schools, also thought the pou would raise awareness of Taradale's significant history.
"What the principals said about the kids becoming the kaitiaki was really nice because that's really going to raise community awareness."
Ms Hawaikirangi is connected to Ngati Paarau and although she lives in Hastings, she grew up at Waiohiki and was educated at Taradale primary and secondary schools.
"There are a whole lot of things I've liked about working on this project.
"Having my grandchildren and children come down and help me, as well as the primary school kids, have all helped take the stress out of getting the pou ready on time."
Dolbel Reserve was named after Richard Dolbel, a pioneer settler from Jersey Island, England.
He and his brother bought land and established Redclyffe and Spingfield Stations in the mid-1860s.
Redclyffe was sold in 1971 and a reserve was created from one of the partitions.
Ms Hawaikirangi said fern designs on the pou represented food-gathering activities once associated with the park site.
It was once the place where men gathered fern root for people living at the nearby pa, Takutai Te Rangi.
"And there is a whole story behind that and I hope people will come down here and read the story board, look at the pou, to understand what it means," Hawaikirangi said.