Representatives from the NZ Transport Agency, Rotorua District Council and Iwi met last week to discuss options for the two pou on State Highway 36 that suffered a chainsaw attack last week.
The group agreed to reinstate the pou and hope to have them back in their rightful place before Christmas.
Harry Wilson, NZTA’s Bay of Plenty Regional Director says the public response to the attack has been reassuring.
“While everyone involved has been deeply hurt by the attack on these precious taonga, the team have been heartened by the huge amount of support they’ve received from members of the public. Even though the pou were in place for a short time, many people had admired them and appreciated their significance,” says Mr Wilson.
Each pou represent and hold special meaning for the Iwi whose rohe (area) meet in the Mangorewa Gorge, and for those involved with the recent highway improvements.
For example, the pouwhenua installed by Ngati Rangiwewehi depicts Kereru (the tall brown carving in attached photos), the ancestor through whom the Iwi gained its interests into the Mangorewa-Kaharoa and Taumata land blocks. Kereru symbolises safe passage through the Mangorewa Gorge for all travellers using this road. The piece also celebrates the work and dedication of the many people who have been involved in developing the road from its earliest beginnings in the late 18th Century when it was first constructed to follow the pre-European walking tracks connecting the Lakes District and the Maketu-Tauranga coastlands.
Carved by Robert Rika, the pouwhenua incorporates designs depicting a way forward including those known as ‘Ngao Tu’ translated as ‘To stand up right and staunch, and display pride in who you are’. This is what Ngati Rangiwewehi feels it has always done and will continue to do for many generations to come.
Over the coming months, the NZTA and partners plan to provide more information and background to both road users and the community on the three significant carved pieces placed in the gorge area.
Anyone with information that could help find the vandals responsible for this attack should contact Rotorua Police on 07-348-0099, or 0800 TIPOFF.