A sign which shows the journey of the Hātea awa and all the positive and negative impacts on it has been unveiled.

Local hapū Ngāti Hau and Ngāti Kahu o Torongare, the Otuihau Working Group, Whitebait Connection, Tikipunga Educare and members of the public came together of Saturday as the sign at the top of the Whangārei Falls - called Te Rerenga o te Awa (Hātea - journey of our awa) - was blessed and unveiled.

Nicki Wakefield, chairwoman of the Otuihau Working Group - which was set up in 2014, said the sign was part of the group's work to improve the water quality of the upper Hātea.

"What we realised is a lot of landowners didn't realise the water from their property went down over the falls - so all through Springs Flat, Kamo and even Vinegar Hill Rd. A lot of people just didn't know that their waterways connected," she said.

Advertisement

Wakefield said honorary Whangārei Falls volunteer John McGregor was often asked where the water came from.

"We thought a sign which had a map of the awa, it's journey and the positive and negative impacts on it would be a worthy sign to share with the world."

Wakefield said the sign has a visual which shows the top of the catchment all the way to the falls. It shows the location of Tikipunga, the roads and where the urban, forestry and farming areas are.

It also includes information on the biodiversity which relies on the awa - like tuna (eel), and birds.

Wakefield said there is an ongoing discussions whether the name of the awa should be Hātea or Hoteo but the decision to put Hātea on the signs was made as Northland Regional Council agreed they would readily change it if the name of the awa changed.

Wakefield said in 2005 there was a big hui which decided to change the name of the river to Hoteo - the awa's true name.

However, there was some disagreement so it was agreed to not progress the name change at that time.

"Ever since I don't think there has been discussions amongst the hapū of Whangārei on what to do about that. I've been telling everyone the conversations are ongoing, and I would like to see them restarted."

Advertisement

Northern Advocate photographer Michael Cunningham went along to the unveiling of the sign and snapped some photos.

Honorary Whangārei Falls volunteer John McGregor. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Honorary Whangārei Falls volunteer John McGregor. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The sign, at Whangārei Falls, was unveiled on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The sign, at Whangārei Falls, was unveiled on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Nicki Wakefield, chairwoman of the Otuihau Working Group. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Nicki Wakefield, chairwoman of the Otuihau Working Group. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The crowd at the Hātea Awa sign unveiling. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The crowd at the Hātea Awa sign unveiling. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Punters wait for the sign to be unveiled. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Punters wait for the sign to be unveiled. Photo / Michael Cunningham