The rich history of Mauao set to be shared

Sunday 19 June 2022

Manuhiri (visitors) and locals will soon see changes taking place at Mauao.

Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao (the Mauao Joint Administration Board) will be sharing the history and stories of Mauao through new wayfinding signage and cultural touchpoints across the maunga.

“This project will help preserve and enhance the cultural, spiritual, historic and natural significance that Mauao holds as a taonga here in Tauranga Moana”, says Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao chairman, Dean Flavell.

Last year, the trig at the summit of Mauao was removed to make way for a cultural compass. The removal of the trig signified the last sign of alienation on the land and the first case in history for a trig to be removed in the Bay of Plenty.

“The resetting of the compass recognises and celebrates the mana of te tihi o Mauao (the summit of Mauao) and acknowledges the history and sacrifice of those that have tread this path before us”, says Dean.

“This is an opportunity to share the stories that live on Mauao, for visitors and the community to reengage with and rediscover their knowledge of the mountain.”

The cultural compass will feature a pounamu touchstone at the centre, carrying mauri (lifeforce), to maintain the mauri of Mauao. Radiating from the touchstones, the compass will identify significant sites of cultural significance on the maunga, outlying landmarks and islands, and select star and sun positions.

The pounamu was gifted by Ngati Waewae of Ngāi Tahu at a ceremony held on Sunday, 5 June at Whareroa Marae. This pounamu will be part of telling the origin story associated with the Bay of Plenty.

The compass will be installed in two phases. The first stage will take place this week when the ōnewa (bluestone) compass is flown by helicopter to the summit on Thursday, 16 June.

Stage two sees outer rings installed over the next few months, which will radiate out from the compass and 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.

Crafted by local stonemasons and adorned with 3D metal printed stylised takarangi, the compass is a labour of love with many locals involved in helping bring the taonga to life.

“With touches of historic materials that hold significance to the area and the addition of 3D metal printed stainless steel, the compass acknowledges the past and is a vision for the future of Tauranga Moana”, Dean says.

To keep the public safe while the compass is installed, there will be a full mountain closure on Thursday, 16 June 2022 from 5am until 12pm.

The compass will remain under wraps until its unveiling on New Zealand’s first public holiday celebrating Matariki on Friday, 24 June.

Te tino haepapa kia tiakina te oranga mana Motuhake o Mauao mō ngā uri whakatupu - the obligation to care for and protect the health and wellbeing of Mauao for future generations.