An event aimed at highlighting and sharing information about Central Hawke's Bay's historic buildings and landmarks took place at Oruawharo Homestead in Takapau, and was a great success, said organisers.

It was run by Heritage New Zealand on March 12, and more than 150 people turned up to hear presentations from prominent local heritage identities, as well as the CHB District Council, Heritage New Zealand staff and board member Pita Sharples.

"The turnout at Oruawharo reinforced the strong appreciation the Central Hawke's Bay community already has for their heritage, and their commitment to see that it is looked after," said Heritage New Zealand central region general manager Claire Craig.

She said it was a first step in a programme that was intended to be run across the country to raise the profile of different communities' heritage, and demonstrate how useful heritage values could be in boosting economic development and tourism.


"The next step is to work with the community to establish the best way to partner with them to achieve further positive heritage outcomes," she said.

She said Hawke's Bay historian Pat Parson challenged Heritage New Zealand to continue its work with Central Hawke's Bay by identifying key heritage sites and involving local schools to foster greater knowledge of heritage places.

"We think that would be a great initiative for development alongside local people, and look forward to hearing other community ideas as to how best to work together."

Highlights from the event called Celebrating Central Hawke's Bay's Heritage - Nga Tapuwae o Tamatea included an address from the Heritage New Zealand board and Maori Heritage Council member Sir Pita Sharples who entertained the audience with his history in Takapau, and his experiences of the coming together of Maori and European cultures in Hawke's Bay.

"This was supported by a glorious a cappella waiata from his family."

Oruawharo owner Peter Harris spoke about the restoration work he and his wife Dianne have undertaken at the property and how they have successfully developed business opportunities within the local community since acquiring the property in 2000.

"We've been fortunate to experience the magic of combining rich Maori tradition with exquisite built heritage at Oruawharo and continuing to share the fruit of this heritage partnership with others promises good things for Central Hawke's Bay in the future."

Ongaonga Historical Society president Pauline Mackie attended the event and said it was very worthwhile to connect with the other people who attended.

Ms Craig said the initiative also fitted well with current listing review work that was under way in Hawke's Bay as well as the national historic landmarks programme.