Symbols of cultural significance placed on Mauao

Mauao sculptures. Photo: Vicki Woodcraft.

Have you seen the new additions that have been placed around the Mauao?

The recent addition of new sculptures on Mauao has sparked excitement and appreciation among locals and visitors alike.

These stunning pieces of incredible cultural significance have been placed on the Mauao as part of the Mauao Placemaking project.

The Mauao Placemaking project, also known as Te Mahere Whakamahinga o Mauao, is a collaborative initiative between Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao (the Mauao Joint Administration Board) and Mauao Trust.

“Tauranga City Council is a member of Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao and helps support projects which share the rich history and stories of Mauao with the community and manuhiri (visitors),” says Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao chairman Dean Flavell.

“In partnership, these projects are a means to celebrate and promote the mana, identity and significance of Mauao through messaging which reflects the connection between Mauao and Tauranga Moana iwi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pūkenga, and Waitaha.

“Tangata whenua have shared Mauao with all who visit him, a shared vision captured by the proverb ‘Te whai te ara o te kotahitanga e taea ai e te katoa te tuku koha mai’ (pursuing the unity of purpose and direction where all are able and encouraged to contribute).

A map featuring the kōhatu locations (from left to right: the beach near Te Kawa, Karewa Hairpin, Te Toka a Tirikawa). Photo supplied: Kyle Bryant.

“This project is essential in ensuring that Mauao is protected, conserved, and appropriately enhanced as a taonga of exceptional cultural, spiritual, historic, and natural significance whilst providing for managed public access and use.

“As part of Te Mahere Whakamahinga o Mauao, over the past 18 or so months, many cultural touchpoints have been added to the maunga, including:

-Wayfinding and interpretation signage, which shares the ecological significance and cultural narrative of Mauao.

-New seating, which provides an opportunity for our community to reflect and connect with this iconic taonga.

-The cultural compass, located at the summit of the maunga. This features a pounamu touchstone at the centre, allowing people the opportunity to participate in protecting Te Manawataki o Mauao (the heartbeat and rhythm). The cultural compass at Te Tihi o Mauao features touch points of significant cultural importance to the area. The rings, which radiate out from the compass, identify significant landmarks and islands that connect Mauao to Te Moana nui a Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) and highlight select stars and markers used by early navigators. The first part of the cultural compass was unveiled during the Tauranga Moana Matariki celebrations in 2022.

-In addition, Te Arataki o Mauao - a digital application that shares stories (via smartphone) about Mauao - is helping visitors to understand and experience Mauao in a new way.

“As part of Te Mahere Whakamahinga o Mauao, there will be a total of six stone carvings (kōhatu whakairo) across the maunga, including Karewa, Te Toka a Tirikawa, Te Puna Waitapu, Waikorire entrance, the beach near Te Kawa and Rangiwhakaoma entrance.”

Dean says, that on Thursday, March 7, three kōhatu were settled on Mauao.

“Weighing around two tonnes each, these kōhatu sculptures have been homed at the beach near Te Kawa, the Karewa Hairpin and Te Toka a Tirikawa (please see attached map for locations).

“The sculptor for these pieces is Takutaimoana (Pete) Harawira, from Whakatāne and of Ngāti Awa descent.”

Each kōhatu represents different themes, he says.

Three sculptures being lifted into place. Photo supplied: Kyle Bryant.

“The anchor stone at the beach near Te Kawa represents the destination and arrival of our waka tētē and our connection to Te Awanui, Tauranga Harbour.

“The carved stone at the Karewa Hairpin shares the story of Taurikura.

“The kōhatu at Te Toka a Tirikawa represents a kotiate (handheld weapon) associated with enduring and standing strong.

“Their story is not prescriptive and will evolve as we hear different iwi members' interpretations of these pieces.

“The naming and blessing of these kōhatu will follow after they have rested for a period in their hau kāinga (home).

“More cultural touchpoints will be added to Mauao in coming months, these will include pou and tomokanga (entry posts), marking the entrance to the maunga on both the beach and harbour sides of the maunga.

“Ko Mauao te Maunga, ko Tauranga te Moana. Mauao is the mountain, and Tauranga is the sea.”



Posted on 18-03-2024 12:07 | By Yadick

How shocking that these rocks, myths and legends apparently have more meaning than seats that were donated by families for all to rest and enjoy, eventually disrespectfully ripped apart and discarded to some corner like trash for loved ones to collect.

Bring back the seats

Posted on 18-03-2024 12:17 | By fair game

Personally prefer somewhere to sit and reflect which is what we do every week on Mauao. These stones are nice, but that comfortable to sit on. Really don't understand why we can't have these stones and also have donated seats. Wouldn't it culturally inappropriate to sit on these??


Posted on 18-03-2024 13:31 | By morepork

It is the reaction of a culture that feels threatened, and is part of the "separation" initiated by the previous Government. The only problem I have with his action is that it was designed to be exclusive. (A far better solution would have allowed both donated seats AND the new kohatu to exist together.) The Crown returned Mauao to the iwi as a gesture of goodwill, recognising the mana of the tribes. Sadly, it seems that there is no place in the plans of the governing committee, for recognition of the gesture, or even a nod to the unity of our cultures. Sad to see this exclusion (not the kohatu) and hope that iwi will take a bigger view in the future.

Just beautiful

Posted on 18-03-2024 14:06 | By Naysay

Every other day we walk the mount and really value the improvements made particularly the education around cultural significance. It's a reminder of how two cultures can work together. The owners of the Mount and TCC managing also we can all enjoy it. Very grateful

The Master

Posted on 18-03-2024 16:26 | By Ian Stevenson

What mugs paid for that? Isn't this city broke and some?

@ Morepork, they are doing the threatening, seems your story line got a little twisted on the way out? There is absolutely no doubt that all New Zealanders are massively better off than settlor and pre-ex-islander arrival here... the same applies to the immigrants already here prior to them even.


Posted on 18-03-2024 20:18 | By Ross Darrall

No wonder Tauranga Rates are rocketing up, with all this 'cultural rubbish" the ratepayers have to pay and pay for this all this to appease the local Tribes who have been handed back the Mauao mountain. It seem the Council have a open purse to just pay the money for anything that the owners of the mountain want. Sickening


Posted on 19-03-2024 08:59 | By KiwiDerek

What beautiful pieces of artwork. It is wonderful to see The Mount receiving the care and attention it so deserves. Congratulations to everyone involved and thanks! The only drawback seems to be that these extraordinary works appear to scare old white people - fortunately, there are a lot of other folk in Tauranga with slightly less closed minds.

@Ian Stevenson

Posted on 19-03-2024 12:54 | By morepork

Your question as to who paid for this is a fair one. There are a number of possible sources, but we have a right to know if our Rates were used.
My "storyline" is not twisted. I was involved in it and remember very well what happened. The return of the mountain was a good step forward for our nation and the general feeling at the time was joy on both sides. Unfortunately there are elements on both sides who cannot let the past go, and move to a future for all of us. I can find no evidence of anyone threatening anyone else over this, so could you please provide your source?

@Ross Darrall

Posted on 19-03-2024 13:09 | By morepork

Is culture really "rubbish", Ross? I was born here and I am as fervent a Kiwi as you could wish to meet. I have done my best all over the world to give people a good impression of our culture. I see Maoritanga (Maori culture) as part of MY heritage as a Kiwi. It is the unique blend of European and Polynesian cultures that makes us what we are. We should value the roots of our Kiwi culture and stop trying to make one side dominate the other. For me the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) is just as significant in MY history, as the Battle of Hastings. I don't agree with Maori about many things (spirits and superstition, and Tikanga as Government, mainly...), but I still value that culture. We all need to widen our view towards an exemplary, diverse Kiwi future for all who live here.

@Kiwi Derek

Posted on 20-03-2024 13:10 | By morepork

Please be a little more careful with your generalizations. Today is my birthday and I DEFINITELY qualify as "old white people". However, I find no trace of "scariness" in these actions and am not even a tiny little bit intimidated by it. I resent being tarred with your "all-inclusive" brush.

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