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NZTA and mana whenua join forces on ground-breaking project


The NZ Transport Agency and Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika have established a new partnership to lead development of the Nga Ūranga ki Pito-one (Ngauranga to Petone) section of the walking and cycling link between Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

Through this partnership, a steering group has been set up to guide the Transport Agency’s project team through design, environmental planning, construction and the provision of cultural advice and leadership on kaitiaki matters.

Kim Skelton, mana whenua representative and chairperson of the Steering Group, says “for Taranaki Whānui this project is about setting a strong foundation and high standards for a long-term partnership that will create community infrastructure which speaks directly about our stories of identity and our values as iwi mana whenua.”

Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships says it is the first partnership of its kind between Taranaki Whānui and the Transport Agency.

“One of the first actions of the steering group has been to adopt a new name – Te Ara Tupua, which evokes the ancient forces that created Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington Harbour.”

The name is significant as it connects the project to key geographical features of the area and acknowledges traditional narratives of mana whenua. Te Ara Tupua refers to the two tupua (sometimes referred to as taniwha) Ngake and Whataitai.

These tupua lived in a landlocked freshwater lake at the Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui (the head of Maui’s fish). Over time they outgrew the lake and sought escape to the ocean. In their attempts to break free, they created many of the landmarks of Te Whanganui a Tara.

Ngake breached the shores of the lake. He went to the east, creating Te Awakairangi (Hutt River), the harbour islands and the harbour mouth. Whataitai went towards the west, creating the landmarks of the western harbour before becoming stranded on land (the area we know as Hataitai), where he later died.

Ms Speight says “establishing a Mana Whenua Steering Group and adopting a new project name are the first steps of many we will take together as the project develops.”

“This is about more than our obligation as a Treaty partner – partnering with mana whenua ensures that this project delivers the greatest possible benefit and enjoyment for all Wellingtonians and visitors to our region.”

Te Ara Tupua webpage

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