The planned restoration of a stream on Mauao could turn it into an educational site.
Four oak trees thought to be between 80 and 100 years old, and other exotics, will be felled to restore the Waipatukakahu stream to its original glory and traditional cultural purpose.
Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao - the Mauao Joint Administration Board - announced yesterday it was working to re-establish the site as a place for flax weaving, a tradition of the important historical site.
As part of the restoration project, from next week board representatives will remove several exotic trees from along Te Ara Tūtanga or Base Track.
This includes the oaks, which will be carved and returned to the maunga as taonga.
Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao chairman Dean Flavell said as representatives of the traditional owners and guardians of Mauao, they cared deeply for the maunga and did not wish to further degrade the Waipatukakahu, which translated to mean "the stream where flax garments are made".
"This puna [stream] is blocked every year for many months.
"Removing these trees and the resulting leaf debris will produce an uninterrupted flow of water. By enabling the water to flow we are helping to restore the mauri [life force] of Waipatukakahu and of Mauao."
Flavell said the area will be replanted with three mass pā harakeke plantings of varieties unique to the area.
"Rather than being a place to look at, this area is to again become a place where people can come to weave and create the muka [prepared flax fibre].
"Our aspiration is for people to practice their weaving artform and allow tangata whenua to reconnect with this cultural site. It is to become a place of living history and we look forward to bringing traditional uses and practices back to Mauao."
Flavell told the Bay of Plenty Times that once restored, the flax weaving site had the potential to be an educational platform.
"Overall, the Waipatukakahu project could become an essential place to learn about local traditions which will align to the development of the new curriculum."
Flavell said he hoped the plan would allow for the stories of Mauao to be told.
"Visitors to the area would benefit, but also local people need to know our stories."
Flavell said feedback to date had been "absolutely positive."
Mount Maunganui Residents, Ratepayers and Retailers Association president Michael O'Neill backed the plan.
"I respect all the work being done," O'Neill said.
"I think this is going to be a real attraction for the visitors of Mauao."
Plans for Mauao also include replacing the summit's trig with a cultural compass.
The compass will feature touchstones at the centre, to maintain the mauri of Mauao.
Radiating from the touchstones, the compass design will identify significant sites on the maunga, outlying landmarks and islands, and select star and sun positions.
The other exotic trees to be removed are pine, elm, grevillia and brachychiton. All are on archaeological features and will be removed by specialists.
Although the oaks were old, Tauranga City Council confirmed they were not considered notable trees. The removal of the oaks was "consistent" with a council policy that says a tree can be removed if it is an inappropriate size or species for the location.
During works, the Te Ara Tūtanga/Base Track will be partially closed from June 15 to 18 and June 21 to 25, and a full circuit of the Te Ara Tūtanga/Base Track will not be possible.
Access to the track will be from the ocean side only. Wardens will be in place to advise visitors of the closure.