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Te Putake o Tawa now open

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

This morning a karakia was held to officially open Te PÅ«take o Tawa - the new forest hub off Tarawera Road.

As part of the wider Whakarewarewa Forest Development, Te PÅ«take o Tawa (also to be known as Tawa Forest Hub) has been developed to provide an additional recreational access point to the forest, as well as the opportunity for new commercial developments in the future.

Work began on Te PÅ«take o Tawa in late June 2019, and what was once only a small gravel car park, has been transformed into a brand new hub with capacity for 400+ vehicles, event spaces, brand new toilets and showers, bike washing facilities, bike hire and food vendors are scheduled to be in place in the coming months, and there is significant scope for future commercial development and employment opportunities.

Chair of CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd, Bronco Carson, says the development is a further realisation of the CNI Iwi Holdings Vision - Mana Whenua, Mana Tangata, Mana Ao Turoa - Protect and develop the land; empower the people; collectively build the future.

"The opening is another significant step to realise the vision. A project of this magnitude requires partners and collaboration. We have the strength of an eight iwi collective, working with local government, iwi, and commercial operators, to bring benefit and value for the greater good of the community."

Mountain Bike Rotorua and TÅ«hourangi Tribal Authority have both been granted concessions to operate within Te PÅ«take o Tawa.

Mountain Bike Rotorua will hold a concession for providing bike hire and retail. As current holders of the concession for the shuttle services in the forest, they are also working to integrate these services with Te PÅ«take o Tawa.

TÅ«hourangi Tribal Authority are partnering with a combination of other local businesses (Whakarewarewa Village, Mitai, and Grounded Café) to provide a food and beverage offering, retail space, and a guided cultural forest experience.

Work is underway to have these concessionaires operational by the end of the year.

Rotorua Mayor, Steve Chadwick, spoke at the opening and acknowledged the role of partnerships in delivering outcomes for the community.

"I want to acknowledge Council’s partnership with Te Arawa through the partnership agreement; and the partnership between Council, CNI, and mana whenua, along with the support of Timberlands, that has enabled the Whakarewarewa Forest Development to go ahead. I also want to acknowledge the role that Provincial Growth Fund investment has played in this project, and many others in our district. Without these partnerships, we would not be able to achieve the outcomes we are working towards for our community.

"This year we have really learnt to appreciate what’s in our own backyards, and what a spectacular backyard we have here in Rotorua! Today we celebrate the opening of a brand new access point into the Whakarewarewa Forest that will entice locals and visitors to experience some of the best of what Rotorua has to offer, that will provide the foundation for future development and employment opportunities, and that will tell the stories of mana whenua and the rich history of this special place."

The Whakarewarewa Forest Development has received a $7.09million Provincial Growth Fund investment, which has been used alongside $7.5million from Rotorua Lakes Council, to enhance the forest amenity and improve the experience for all. This is a collaborative project between CNI Iwi Holdings and Rotorua Lakes Council, with the support and guidance of mana whenua. Timberlands has also supported the development of Te PÅ«take o Tawa.

Te PÅ«take o Tawa is now open to the public. Car park open hours are 6am - 9pm seven days a week. Information about biking and walking tracks in the area is available here - https://redwoods.co.nz/

Whakarewarewa Forest Loop

The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop was also on track to open alongside Te PÅ«take o Tawa but has been delayed following the unearthing of a significant archaeological site west of the Tarawera Water Tank. The site is currently being surveyed and mana whenua are assisting to determine how to adapt the Forest Loop Track construction to preserve the site.

In the meantime, a new cycle bridge at Waipā Bike Hub is being constructed to become the dedicated crossing over the Puarenga Stream for the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop. It will also provide an alternative access point into Whakarewarewa Forest for recreational users if the existing bridge is ever inaccessible.

Once complete, the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is set to be a fun and memorable trail that showcases a classic Rotorua mountain biking experience - redwoods, geothermal features, Māori culture and stunning views.

Moerangi

An important aspect of the Whakarewarewa Forest Development has been creating opportunities to tell the pakiwaitara (stories) of Tūhourangi and Ngāti Whakaue, the iwi with mana whenua.

Bronco Carson explains that to support this, the Forest Development has been given the name Moerangi by mana whenua.

"Moerangi reflects the natural landscape of the rohe - particularly the two maunga, Ngongotahā and Moerangi.

"Moerangi is an important maunga to mana whenua. She is a rohe marker between Tūhourangi and Ngāti Whakaue and the wife of maunga Ngongotahā."

Moerangi encompasses three key areas.

TÄ«tokorangi

- Tītokorangi was the original pā site of Tangaroamihi. He was the earliest settler who travelled inland from Maketū after the Arawa waka landed. The Tī was dropped and Tokorangi became the common name in the early 1900s. Long Mile Road will be renamed Tītokorangi Drive, and references to the area will return to the original name of the whenua, Tītokorangi.

Te PÅ«take o Tawa

- This is the name created for the new forest hub. Meaning "the base of Tawa". Tawa and Moerangi are the only named mountains of the area and it seemed appropriate to attach a name to this physical feature, rather than manufacture a new name.

Whakarewarewa Forest Loop

- Mana whenua agreed to keep the original name of the forest and add 'Loop' for specificity.

The pakiwaitara of the locations within Moerangi will now begin to feature throughout the forest for all to learn and enjoy.

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