Te Ara Wai Journeys officially launched
Stories silenced until now will finally be heard with the launch of Te Ara Wai Journeys, a unique self-guided tour of culturally significant sites in Waipa, including battle sites.
Those narratives include stories of the New Zealand Land Wars told by those with direct links to the bloody battles which helped shaped Aotearoa-New Zealand. Other story tellers include historians, writers, military experts, archaeologists and more.
Te Ara Wai Journeys takes visitors on pathways through natural landscapes, battle sites and early settlements in Waipā that formed the community and helped shape New Zealand.
In total 169 stories have been shared, all bite sized, accessible to anyone, and available in English and Te Reo Māori. They provide perspectives on the district’s foundational geological beginnings, its mix of peoples, their struggles, innovation and resilience, and the battles for sovereignty during the New Zealand land wars.
Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said producing Te Ara Wai Journeys was an ambitious project and he was “incredibly grateful” to iwi, historians, archaeologists, writers, military experts and others for sharing their stories.
“New Zealanders are thirsty for knowledge about our own history and this goes part of the way towards filling a huge gap,” he said.
“I hope Te Ara Wai Journeys will lead locals, domestic tourists and international tourists to discover more about the district, explore new landscapes and take time to reflect on our history.”
“The stories shared in Journeys are powerful and at times confronting. They are not always easy to hear. It’s fair to say the hurt and anger of our past is something many continue to live with today. We have been ignorant of this for so many years, but now we acknowledge that it has never been more important for Kiwis to learn about our history,” he adds.
At an official launch event on Friday, Minister of Māori Development Hon Nanaia Mahuta said Te Ara Wai, meaning the pathway to water, was an apt name.
“When we think about some of the stories of the battle sites throughout the area, the tears that were shed because of the loss of life and the conflict that occurred, the tears of pain, but also the tears of reconciliation, Te Ara Wai is such an important metaphor to hold onto,” she said.
“Te Ara Wai because water used to be the highway. Te Ara Wai because water links mountains to oceans and rivers link mountains to oceans. Connecting stories between Hamilton, [Waipā] and then going through into Tuwharetoa is about sharing our landmarks, our stories and our whakapapa connections.”
A few years ago Council saw this project as an incredible opportunity to tell the unique stories of Waipā, a district rich in heritage and bursting with stories.
After engaging with the community to gain its support, Council signed off a proposal to build Te Ara Wai, a purpose-built museum and discovery centre that will provide a modern and inclusive space with a strong focus on Waipa stories, including the New Zealand Land Wars. It has committed $7 million to the project.
Council also confirmed it would invest an additional $3.6 million over 10 years in Waipā’s significant cultural and ecological sites, including New Zealand Land Wars sites, so they can become visitor attractions and boost the district’s economy.
These sites are now interpreted through storytelling with signage, hard copy brochures and QR codes taking visitors to a mobile website.
The mobile website was developed by Wellington-based company Locales which specialise in creating visitor experiences through storytelling.
Mayor Mylchreest said the launch of Te Ara Wai Journeys was the start of an exciting new chapter as Waipā District Council continues to invest in the district’s heritage and share its stories.
“We’re now in the midst of working with architects and are gearing up to get started with the construction of Te Ara Wai in Te Awamutu, due to open at the end of 2022.”
Take the Te Ara Wai Journeys mobile tour at www.tearawai.nz.