World class visitor experience planned for Motupōhue Bluff Hill

World class visitor experience planned for Motupōhue Bluff Hill

A planned 25m tall sculpture on Motupōhue (Bluff Hill) would be visible from the township and function as a beacon of the site’s cultural significance.

Te Rūnaka o Awarua is leading the development of Te Taurapa o Te Waka – Motupōhue Visitor Experience.

A sculptural Taurapa (canoe sternpost) up to 25m tall, visible from the base of Motupōhue, would be the centre piece of an entire experience including interpretation centre, sculpture trail, walking track and use of digital, location-based storytelling.

Te Rūnaka o Awarua trustee Dean Whaanga says for mana whenua south is up and north is down, meaning Motupōhue is the true top of the country.

“It’s only fitting that we have a world-class visitor experience here,” Dean Whaanga says.

The proposed plan for the site shows two pou representing tūpuna (ancestors) flanking the existing roadway to the summit, conveying the significance of the site. A new car park, an interpretation centre, and walking tracks are part of the plan.

Te Taurapa o Te Waka would have a sculpture trail, including a larger-than-life-size puka (anchor), which relates to several kōrero such as Te Waka o Aoraki and the oral tradition of Te Ara a Kiwa. The rope of the puka (anchor) would wind its way to the summit, where the broken waka of Aoraki would be represented.

The estimated cost of the development is $18 million. The next step in the process is creating a business feasibility and fundraising strategy.

Te Taurapa o Te Waka is part of the Bluff Motupōhue 2020 Tourism Master Plan, which was facilitated by Great South in partnership with Te Rūnaka o Awarua and Invercargill City Council.

Great South chief executive Chami Abeysinghe says Te Taurapa o Te Waka is an outcome of the master plan, which recognised the strategic importance of Bluff and its potential to be a vibrant hub for the community, as well as visitors.

“It’s part of a long-held vision to highlight the cultural importance of Motupōhue. It will add real depth to what is currently on offer for locals and visitors alike,” Chami Abeysinghe says.

A coordinated plan for Bluff was identified as being crucial within the Murihiku Southland Destination Strategy 2023-2029 and aligns with the New Zealand Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy. Funding to support Awarua Rūnaka with the development of the concept plans came from the Government’s Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme, via Great South.

The creative concept for Te Taurapa o Te Waka was designed by Te Rūnaka o Awarua with support from place-based storytelling agency Locales.

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