The NZ Transport Agency's Bay of Plenty Regional Director Harry Wilson is dismayed at the senseless attack on two recently unveiled pou on State Highway 36 between Tauranga and Rotorua.
“The pou represent many hours of skilled workmanship and display the area’s rich and varied history. Why anyone would want to destroy such magnificent works of art is beyond a thinking person’s comprehension,” says Mr Wilson.
Representing two Iwi from the Kaharoa Mangorewa area, the pou were designed and built by local master carvers. They were unveiled and blessed just two weeks ago at a ceremony marking the end of the joint NZTA and Rotorua District Council project to improve safety in the Mangorewa Gorge. The pou acknowledge and represent the relationship between tangata whenua (people of the land), their ancestors and their environment or turangawaewae (place of standing). They also represent all those who worked on the highway in the past, who will work on it in the future and those who use the route.
Two other installations in the gorge - a rock carving, and a story board describing the area’s European history - were unharmed in the attack.
Police are investigating the crime and Mr Wilson says the NZTA will assist wherever it can. The NZTA, Rotorua District Council and Iwi are considering options for the future of the pou.