Tuesday, 26 May 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Taputapuatea Stream footbridge project to be resumed in the next few weeks

After a delay over the summer holidays, the Taputapuatea Stream footbridge project in Whitianga is due to be resumed in the next few weeks.

The footbridge, which was under construction and making good progress from October 2019, is being built to provide a safer option for pedestrians to cross the Taputapuatea Stream, rather than using the existing State Highway 25 bridge. The bridge will link the footpaths and tracks on the Taputapuatea Spit with the walkway along Buffalo Beach to the Whitianga Wharf. 

Andrew Scobie, Thames-Coromandel District Council Project Manager, says that the earthworks part of the project was paused when Heritage New Zealand requested a formal cultural value assessment from Ngāti Hei. The area surrounding the Taputapuatea Stream is wahi tapu (a sacred site) and as such, Heritage New Zealand is deemed an affected party. 

According to the archaeological study that was carried out, “The site beside [the] Taputapuatea Stream is at the base of a hill that is home to Te Wahine Moeroa o Taputapuatea Pa. The location has significant links to Taputapuatea Marae on the coast of Raiatea, Tahiti, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the waka-voyaging ancestors who crossed the Pacific and established themselves in Aotearoa.

“It is said that Kupe, the great Polynesian explorer who voyaged to Aotearoa from Hawaiki, bathed in the hot springs of Te Whitianga a Kupe after he moored his waka in Mercury Bay. He named the stream and pa after the Tahitian Taputapuatea Marae because of its similar natural flora and fauna. Rapanui (Easter Island), Hawaii, Arahurahu Island in Tahiti, Moorea Island and a reef in the Kermadec Islands all have sites of significance referring to Taputapuatea.”

As part of the consent process for the footbridge, TCDC has been working with Ngāti Hei on several pieces of art that will be installed in the area along with signage to illustrate and convey the importance of the site. The artworks agreed on include a rustic bridge balustrade, vertical carvings fixed to each balustrade post, two small pataka (store houses) and a waharoa (gateway entrance).

A pest control gate on the footbridge will also reduce the risk of pests entering the Taputapuatea Spit and the surrounding coastal environment.

For pedestrians frequently using the State Highway 25 bridge across the Taputauatea Stream and residents in the vicinity of the Taputapuatea Spit, completion of the footbridge cannot come soon enough. The State Highway 25 bridge is often congested and is dangerous. The design of the new footbridge is also attracting a lot of praise as, according to many of the residents, it will undoubtedly compliment the vista of the Taputapuatea Spit.

Pictured: The Taputauatea Stream footbridge as it was left after work on the project was paused whenHeritage New Zealand requested a formal cultural value assessment to be obtained.

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