The pines are long gone, but Gisborne's most-visited attraction needs a little help with its new cloak.

Titirangi, also known as Kaiti Hill, which overlooks the site of Ngāti Oneone's trading port, will soon be covered in native plants as part of a restoration project.

Titirangi's statue of Captain James Cook might also be removed during restoration as it was considered problematic on many levels.

Critics have said it was inappropriately placed, given nine locals were shot during Cook's visit.


It was not an actual likeness of Cook and was wearing the wrong naval uniform. It has also been defaced several times.

Project manager Ranell Nikora said from a Ngāti Oneone perspective Titirangi is receiving more care.

"In order to restore her mana, to restore her mauri, she needs to be clothed appropriately - we believe that is in native flora," she said.

"There is a lot of weeding involved. We planted over 60,000 native plants on the hill between 2015 and 2016. They need a considerable amount of care and we want to make sure that they are going to grow nice and big and healthy."

She said weed-management cadets have been hired and once Titirangi is weed-free the next target is Tuamoto Island, just off the coast.

"The idea is for them to gain experience from a supervisor who will be on the hill, teaching them about native identification, weed identification and how we remove those weeds from the slopes."

The planting programme formed part of a major overhaul of Titirangi, which was a place of significance long before the arrival of pākehā.

Ranell said Titirangi Domain was a place to be enjoyed by all people.


"We have mana whenua responsibility both to the community to make sure she is looked after, and for future generations," she said.

Other developments included the planned replacement of the existing observatory with a multi-use community centre and an extensive walkway.

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