Excitement is building along with visible progress on phase one of the Ngā Ara Tipuna project that is designed to showcase the network of six historic pā sites surrounding Waipukurau.
Ngā Ara Tipuna is a partnership between Tamatea Hapū, Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea and Central Hawke's Bay District Council and has been funded largely by the Provincial Growth Fund, which will be boosted with a combination of trust funding (Eastern and Central Community Trust, private trusts, and lotteries), council, and other community fundraising.
Wellington-based and nationally recognised "place-based storytellers" Locales has been engaged to manage and deliver the project, and Locales director Chris Hay was in Waipukurau before Easter to oversee the progress.
"We're only days away from finishing the landscaping and groundwork," Chris said.
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"There are new pathways and flat areas for the installations. Seating will be installed for groups, and in mid- April the big steel structures and signage will be installed.
"Work has been done on parking areas and sites on Hatuma Rd, Takapau Rd and Russell Park.
"In Wellington we've done a lot of research and built the entire experience in full scale in cardboard and had four community groups come down from CHB to see it as it is going to look, and to give feedback and suggestions. We brought some of the mock-ups to Waipukurau and took them on to the hill to test the alignment. It's a reasonably difficult site because of its shape."
The finished installations will have oral history pou accompanied with a QR code that can be downloaded on to mobile phones, so visitors can hear about "sites that most people never knew were here", says Chris.
"The stories are fantastic and cover the network of pā sites and their connectivity to the waters. It's a unique site and there are many layers of history." Chris says the public will see the rest of stage one happening quite quickly, culminating in an installation at the Waipukurau Railway Station that ties it all together.
"We're on track for a soft launch in May, with the full launch in mid- June."