The Provincial Growth Fund has announced it will invest $2.8 million into a project that will turn Waipukurau pā sites into a cultural tourism attraction.

The project, Ngā Ara Tipuna, will see six pā sites around Waipukurau developed with the fund, with the hope 16 jobs will be created in the town as result.

It includes the creation of carvings, digital storytelling, displays and the use of audio and smartphone technology to share the history of the pā sites surrounding Waipukurau.

The sites will tell the story of how iwi came to the area and what pā sites were used for.

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Announced on Tuesday at Pukekaihau pā, the first of the sites to be developed this year, the project aims at telling the history of the area while acting as a "catalyst to develop tourism business," Mayor Alex Walker said.

Regional Economic Development under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau (centre) says telling the stories of our ancestors was incredibly important. Photo / Warren Buckland
Regional Economic Development under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau (centre) says telling the stories of our ancestors was incredibly important. Photo / Warren Buckland

Regional Economic Development under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said telling the stories of our ancestors was incredibly important.

"It's a story that people from around the world want to hear. They want to hear the story of the people whose land this is, that's what they travel the world to hear," he said.

The project is a collaboration between the Central Hawke's Bay District Council and Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea.

Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea Roger Maaka chairman said Waipukurau, and NZ's, history had not been well acknowledged.

He said Pu was "a chance to make our history real so the younger generations can come onto the hill, see these things, and understand their part".

Brian Morris of Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea said the project was a way "for local people to understand the place where they are growing up and what's beneath their feet".

Development of, Pukekaihau will begin in March while other five pā sites, Te Waipukurau, Kaimanawa, Kaitoroa, Ruatangaroa, and Moana-i-rokia, will be developed in February 2021.

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"The project expects to create 16 new jobs once finished and attract up to 15,000 visitors annually by its fifth year of operation," Tabuteau said.

"The economic benefits of this project for a town the size of Waipukurau are huge because of the boost to employment and tourism," he said.

Dignitaries pictured at the announcement that $2.8 million will be invested in a project that will turn Waipukurau pā sites into cultural tourism attractions. Photo / Warren Buckland
Dignitaries pictured at the announcement that $2.8 million will be invested in a project that will turn Waipukurau pā sites into cultural tourism attractions. Photo / Warren Buckland

The projected impact was researched as part of a feasibility study by government, which received a $104,764 investment from the PGF last year.

Walker said the project would bring tourists a "reason to come and a reason to stop here".

A further $1 million of funds for the project will be raised locally, said a CHB District Council representative.

Tabuteau and Walker were at the announcement, which included a pōwhiri and blessing of the site along with Hastings mayor Sandra Hazelhurst, Napier mayor Kirstin Wise, members of Te Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea, staff and locals.