Whangarei's history will be honoured in a new gateway to the city.

The city's historical title as Whangarei Te Terenga Paraoa, the gathering place of whales or the chiefs, is being incorporated into a sculpture to welcome visitors near the edge of town.

Part of Mander Park at the intersection of Central Ave and Western Hills Drive will be cordoned off while the sculpture is built and installed. It is the first of Whangarei's Sense of Place Gateway projects.

Whangarei hapu, Te Parawhau and council designers collaborated on a design that combines two historic features of the district.


Four stone walls, which symbolise those found throughout rural Whangarei, will be shaped like sperm whales. The whales' heads will be made of steel, perforated with a unique cultural pattern.

These will light up at night and banners will flutter from poles above the whale pod.

Whangarei District Council's team leader for major projects, Marie-Katrin Richter, said the sculpture would be built by a team assembled by Culham Engineering over the next five to six weeks along the footpath next to State Highway 1.

"Traffic flows won't be affected from the works. The construction site will be fenced off during the work and pedestrians will be directed past the site."

Senior landscape architect Jed Whitaker said the gateway would continue in the footsteps of other sense of place projects such as the Hatea Loop, the Laneway and the Pocket Park which have all contributed to developing a sense of centrality in Whangarei.

"The small gateway represents the pride and uniqueness of the community and a promise made to visitors for what to expect within our city."

He said once people turn into Central Ave, they will connect with other work being undertaken to direct people to the city centre.