A carved waharoa (entranceway), widely regarded as one of the historic symbols of Rotorua and cultural tourism, is being expertly replicated at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Visitors to the attraction, part of Te Puia, will be able to see the carving work in progress, as well as the completed work, over the coming months.

The original waharoa was carved by Tene Waitere, a renowned Te Arawa carver, as one of two that were exhibited at the New Zealand International Exhibition in Hagley Park, Christchurch, in 1908.

Following the close of the exhibition, one of the waharoa was transported to Rotorua and erected in Te Whakarewarewa valley. It became a symbol of cultural tourism, with generations of New Zealand and international visitors having their photos taken beside it. The second waharoa is on permanent display in Te Papa in Wellington.

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Institute director Karl Johnstone said the work required special skills to recreate the piece as closely as possible to the original. He said the project was made even more complex as the waharoa was double-sided.

The carving is being done by senior carver Albert Te Pou, from a 5m tall, three tonne piece of bush-felled and laminated Northland kauri.

The replication is part of the 50-year celebrations to acknowledge the Act of Parliament that established the institute and Te Puia as they are today.

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