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New pou for Arataki visitor centre

Posted by SCe Comments Off on New pou for Arataki visitor centre


Mayor Len Brown, Kingi Tuheitia and Eru Thompson at pou unveiling

A  newly carved 12 metre pou was today unveiled by Kiingi Tuheitia at the entrance to the Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Parkland today (6 May).


Carved by John Collins and Sunnah Thompson from fallen kauri from the Waitakere Ranges, this pou represents the ancestry of Te Kawerau a Maki, the tangata whenua of the Waitakere Ranges. It replaces the original pou that was removed in 2009 due to irreparable damage.

Once again the ancestors of Te Kawerau a Maki stand as guardians of the Arataki Visitor Centre and Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa, says Te Warena Taua, Chair of Te Kawerau a Maki Tribal Authority.

The pou honours our ancient relationship with the Waitakere Ranges.

It embodies our traditional knowledge and the whakapapa by which we inherit our mana upon the land, he says.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says it was an honour to have the pou unveiled and blessed by Kiingi Tuheitia.

This pou is a truly magnificent example of local craftsmanship and a fitting tribute to the people of Te Kawerau a Maki.

We are honoured to mark this occasion in the presence of Kiingii Tuheitia, he says.

The Auckland Regional Council and now the Auckland Council, which manages the visitor centre and looks after the Waitakere Ranges Regional Parkland, has worked with Te Kawerau a Maki over the last two years on the creation of the new pou.

The Arataki Visitor Centre is the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges and learning of the damage to the pou in 2009 was distressing, says Cr Sandra Coney, Chair of the Auckland Council Parks Recreation and Heritage Forum and former chair of the ARC Parks Committee which funded the pou.

The pou is central to the mana of the visitor centre and its role in representing the history of the Waitakere Ranges. The building felt a little forlorn without it and we welcome the new pou to stand in the place of the old.

We are delighted to see Arataki complete once again and know that the people of Auckland and visitors from further afield, will welcome its return, she says.

The former Auckland Regional Council allocated $229,000 to the replacement of the Arataki pou. This includes the removal and early assessment of the original pou; extraction of kauri, carving and installation of the replacement pou, and the unveiling ceremony.

Information on the pou:

The oldest ancestor at the top of the pou is Tiriwa, it was his name that was given the whole of west Auckland know as Te Waonui a Tiriwa or the great forest of Tiriwa.

The second figure represents Hape the senior priest on board the Tainui canoe, he played a big role in the area, naming places like Titirangi, Piha, Te Wai o rakataura (Mt Albert) and Te Tatua o riukiuta (Three Kings).

The third figure is Hoturoa the captain of the Tainui canoe. The old name for the Manukau Harbour is te manukanuka o Hoturoa, the anxiety of Hoturoa when he had to cross the Manukau Harbours Bar.

The forth figure represents Maki from whom Tamakimakaurau is named after, he is major ancestor here in Auckland.

The fifth figure is Te Kawerau a Maki from whom the tribe takes its name; he is also a son of Maki.

The bottom figure is Te Au o Te Whenua who held the mana from Whatipu in the south to Muriwai in the north.  It is from this ancestor that Te Kawerau a Maki gets the Mana Whenua status of this region.

In the beginning

The original Arataki pou stood at the entrance to the Arataki Visitor Centre for 15 years, from 1994 to 2009.

In the early 1990’s original head carver John Collins and fellow carver Bernard Makoare selected a dead standing kauri from Cascade Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Parkland. This five tonne icon of the forest was felled and helicoptered out in five pieces, then trucked to Mt Smart Stadium where Collins and his team of carvers began their work.


Under the guidance of John Collins, the pou was cared for and maintained.   It was regularly cleaned and treated with a protective coating. A routine check in late 2006 revealed signs of timber-weakening decay and investigations into the extent of the damage began.

Visual checks, probing and ultrasound scanning were carried out.  The Auckland Regional Council obtained engineering advice, the opinion of a wood conservator at the Auckland Museum, and installed additional bracing to support the pou and maintain its safety.

Throughout this investigative process, the guidance of Te Kawerau a Maki and expert advice of John Collins and his carving team was fundamental.

Assessment and repair

Following its removal on Tuesday 21 July 2009, the Arataki pou was assessed and found to be beyond repair. The council and Te Kawerau a Maki began planning its replacement.

A new pou

In May 2010, fallen kauri logs were carefully extracted from Cascade Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. In the months since then, head carver John Collins and Sunnah Thompson, together with other Te Kawerau a Maki craftsman have painstakingly created a new depiction of their ancestors.The new pou was installed on Tuesday 26 April and unveiled by Kiingi Tuheitia on Friday 6 May 2011 at a dawn ceremony.

Arataki Visitor Centre

The Arataki Visitor Centre was opened in 1994 and offers a unique learning and cultural experience. Arataki means ˜pathway to learning’ and the visitor centre aims to instil an understanding and appreciation of the conservation values of the Waitakere Ranges.

Each year around 165,000 people visit Arataki; around three-quarters of these are Aucklanders or from New Zealand.

The building was designed by Harry Turbott, who worked under the instruction of Te Kawerau a Maki kaumatua Te Warena Taua to ensure the building reflected Maori design principles.

Categories: Maori, Uncategorized

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