A Waikato project enhancing one of New Zealand’s most significant battle sites has been awarded an excellence award by the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand.
The symbolic reinterpretation of the Rangiriri Paa – part of the works on the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway - was awarded the Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development) Award for Excellence in Crown-Māori relationships.
Transport Agency director of regional relationships, Parekawhia McLean, says the Rangiriri Paa project shows what can be achieved when the Crown and iwi work together. “We have been able to preserve the cultural and historical significance of the paa, recognising the area’s history for all New Zealanders.”
The site of the 1863 Battle of Rangiriri in north Waikato was significantly damaged when SH1 was re-routed in 1965, and the development of the 4.8km Rangiriri section of the expressway provided an opportunity to shift the highway west of the Paa site, rehabilitate the area and landscape and interpret the original Paa site.
The project was also given an Outstanding Award in the Culture and Traditions category at the International Landscape Architects World Congress in Singapore last week.
“We agreed with iwi Waikato-Tainui that a symbolic interpretation of the Paa was the best outcome, and worked alongside consultants Boffa Miskell, Waikato-Tainui, Heritage New Zealand and cultural advisors to design and develop the structure.
“We feel this early engagement and collaboration enabled us to achieve a great outcome at Rangiriri,” says Ms McLean.
The project, which was officially completed late last year, is a scaled representation of the fortified Paa. It has a large pou telling stories of the area and marking a battle trench which runs down to the nearby Waikato River. The whole site has improved public access and is designed to provide a space for continued education and contemplation about the battle and subsequent invasion of the Waikato.
Boffa Miskell partner and landscape architect, John Goodwin, says his consultancy took a team approach with the Transport Agency and Waikato-Tainui to the Rangiriri Paa project to come up with the best outcome.
“Part of the solution was finding a way to appropriately honour the history of Rangiriri,’’ he says.
“This international award recognises the coming together of culture, ecology, infrastructure and design; it is a credit to all the parties involved in the project.”
The Rangiriri Paa restoration project also won a bronze for landscape design, and a silver for landscape construction in the 2018 Registered Master Landscapers awards earlier this month.