New pou whenua at Motu bridge welcomes people to the region


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Te Aitanga a Mahaki yesterday celebrated the unveiling of Hinetapuarau, a seven-metre-tall steel pou installed at the State Highway 2/Te Wera Road intersection just north of Matawai.

The pou whenua was commissioned as part of the $7.6 million Motu Bridge replacement project to replace the single-lane bridge and improve safety.

A new name for the bridge was also unveiled today: Te Whitinga o Tamataipūnoa, meaning ‘the crossing of Tamataipūnoa’.

“Our team has worked closely with Te Aitanga a Mahaki throughout the project and is proud to have collaborated on the artwork which not only welcomes people to the region, but also creates a sense of place,” says Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight.

“It turns the intersection into a culturally significant space that reflects local stories and encourages people to learn more about the area’s history.”

Te Aitanga a Mahaki spokesperson Morehu Pewhairangi says Hinetapuarau and Tamataipūnoa are ancestors that Te Aitanga a Mahaki iwi whakapapa to, and are strong leaders from the iwi’s history.

“The pou reflects our history from our point of view, from our strong wahine rangatira, Tauheikuri and Hinetapuarau, to our male ancestors Tamataipunoa and Mahaki, showing the connections between our hapū and our iwi. It stands magnificently to welcome visitors and whanau returning home to Te Tairāwhiti.

“Te ataahua hoki o te Pouwhenua nei, ko te whakatinanatanga o ngā hiahia, ngā  tūmanako o ngā pakeke kia whai mana ai ngā kōrero tuku iho mō tēnei takiwā o Te Tairāwhiti. Ko te pou nei, hei pōhiri i ngā manuhiri, hei whakatau anō i wāna uri ki te kaenga.”

Hinetapuarau was designed by local artist Nick Tupara and fabricated locally by Gisborne Engineering, made from 32-millimetre-thick steel.

In addition to the pou, a new shelter has also been installed as part of the Motu Trails, allowing cyclists to stop and take a break at the start or end of the Rere Falls trail.

Construction on the bridge replacement project began in 2016 and the new bridge was officially opened in 2018. Stage 2 of the works involved safety improvements and realignments to the surrounding road, which are now complete.

For more information about the project, visit link)