Last year the Te Awamutu Rod and Custom Club took advantage of the Waitangi Day break to cruise the route of the Waipā Heritage Discovery Tour.

Council had initiated a bus tour of heritage sites on the western side of the district at the end of 2017, which proved so popular extra dates were added.

During last year a heritage tour of the eastern side of the district was developed, again proving popular with the public and both tours were run again last week, thanks to funding from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Te Awamutu Rod and Custom Club members spent Waitangi Day 2019 cruising the new tour — and like last year found there was much about their district they did not know.

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A highlight was the run to the top of Pukemako, also known as Sanatorium Hill, on the eastern side of Cambridge, with its outstanding views of the whole of the Waipā basin and beyond.

The club thanked Council for sharing the route map and historic notes with the club.

Over the past 14 months Council had put on 15 free heritage bus tours, focusing on Waipā's historic sites, including battle sites from the New Zealand Land Wars.

All 15 tours booked out quickly with people asking to go on a waiting list.

The Government funding allowed Council to run five more tours last week — and once again they were fully booked.

First stop on the Te Awamutu side of the Waipā Heritage Tour is Pirongia's Alexandra Redoubt. Photo / Supplied
First stop on the Te Awamutu side of the Waipā Heritage Tour is Pirongia's Alexandra Redoubt. Photo / Supplied

Two tours explored the Cambridge side of the district, with the other three on the Te Awamutu side.

The eastern tours took in the stories of the Cambridge Town Hall, Lake Te Koo Utu, Roto-o-rangi, Pukemako and Lake Karāpiro. Key sights on the western tours include Rangiaowhia, Ōrākau and Alexandra Armed Constabulary Redoubt.

Waipā community facilities manager Tony Roxburgh says interest in our own local and national history is growing.

Members of the Te Awamutu Rod and Custom Club check out the memorial to Michael Gudex and vistas from Pukemako, also known as Sanatorium Hill. Photo / Supplied
Members of the Te Awamutu Rod and Custom Club check out the memorial to Michael Gudex and vistas from Pukemako, also known as Sanatorium Hill. Photo / Supplied

"People are often ashamed at how little they know," he says.

"There is a definite feeling that more needs to be taught in schools."

In Waipā that interest has been seen by the numbers attending the bus tours, other events such as the build up and subsequent commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the invasion of Rangiaowhia and the Battle of Ōrākau, the adoption of Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration and plan for Te Ara Wai — the Waipā Discovery Centre.