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Creating a taonga for Tairawhiti

14 Mar 2018

Creating a taonga for Tairawhiti

Navigations Nedine and DeArne

The first major stages of the Tairawhiti Navigations Project are well underway.

The project celebrates the historic tapestry of our region through stories, information signage, trails and more.

Stage one has begun with the inner harbour upgrade including new car parks, landscaping, lighting and a pedestrian connection to Rakaiatane Road to better connect the inner harbour to Titirangi and the Cook Landing Site.

The inner harbour precinct will become the central hub for the Tairawhiti Navigations experience, which includes a 4km historic interpretations trail from Oneroa to the top of Titirangi.

The trail will have story-telling signs with mobile app videos of local iwi sharing their stories along the way. People can interact and interpret the installations that communicate just why those places are so significant.

Senior programme manager De-Arne Sutherland says the project is about feeling connected, through sharing stories in an authentic way.

“The local excitement and strong connection will be picked up by visitors. If we do it right and well, they will really connect with our stories too.”

The flow on effect could include economic opportunities for Maori tourism, small businesses and guides.

“The Navigations Project will provide a platform that others can benefit from. It's a real game changer for how we see ourselves and how others see us,” De-Arne says.

Council's chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the project started out as an idea from iwi and the community around 2000.

It has moved through several guises and governance entities from the Tairawhiti Museum, Tairawhiti Development Partnership and then to Council.

“The project has taken a huge leap forward with Council working in a truly collaborative arrangement with iwi and key stakeholders on story, trail and site specific development and also the generous contributions from the Eastland Community Trust and central government.”

There is a 23-strong governance group, including representatives from Ngati Oneone, Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tamanuhiri, and Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Te Ha Trust, Historic Places Tairawhiti, Department of Conservation, Tairawhiti Museum, Eastland Community Trust, Eastland Group and Gisborne District Council committee chairs.

“That level of local commitment represents the significance of this project to the community,” says De-Arne.

Of the $1.27m Council received from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, $780,000 will be used in the inner harbour and $490,000 on track and car park upgrades on Titirangi.

While stage one has just began, plenty of work has gone into laying strong foundations, including the guardian programme on Titirangi where every winter, more than 700 children have planted a tree and become the guardian of that native plant and the maunga.

“The knowledge these children are picking up from the walking tour we do, and the information shared, has had awesome results. The kids are telling us what the different plants are and how Titirangi got its name now,” De-Arne says.

“As more people use the maunga and there are further connections fostered, we have seen the mistreatment of Titirangi decline rapidly.”

This year there was a 66% reduction in illegal dumping in the area.

De-Arne says no amount of “no illegal dumping” signage would have been able to have this amount of positive impact.

“This programme is part of building momentum for 2019 and the 250th commemorations,” says De-Arne. “This will become a real taonga for our community beyond 2019.”

For more information about the Tairawhiti Navigations

Photo: (L-R) Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann and Council's senior programme manager De-Arne Sutherland