Date: 05 June 2009
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and NZ Transport Agency invite Opotiki and Gisborne community members to the official opening of ‘The Waioeka Journey – Te Awa a Tamatea’, on 20th June 2009. People wishing to attend the opening are asked to contact the Opotiki Area Office by Friday, 12th June.
DOC East Coast Hawke’s Bay Acting Conservator, Nicola Etheridge said today that the project is the culmination of five years work, seeking to not only reduce the road toll, but also give travellers in the Waioeka Gorge an appreciation of the historic, cultural and ecological significance of the area.
“This has been a multi-agency project led by NZ Transport Agency and DOC. The primary aim has been to increase road safety in the Waioeka Gorge through a range of engineering, enforcement and education measures. As manager of the Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve, DOC has been involved through the establishment of seven rest areas. These are designed to encourage travellers to stop, take a break and reduce driver fatigue, a significant contributor to Waioeka vehicle accidents,” Ms Etheridge said.
Information panels at the rest areas tell stories of the area, including traditional tales of local iwi, more recent history of settlers, farmers and road-builders and stories of Waioeka ecology.
“For many travellers, the Waioeka Gorge is just a long, winding, uncomfortable section of the main highway north of Gisborne. Through this project, we aimed to show something of the hidden treasures of the area and highlight the links between land and people. The Waioeka Gorge is not a place to be taken for granted, as many drivers have learned to their cost. It is, however, a beautiful part of New Zealand with a fascinating history and treated with respect, has much to offer,” Ms Etheridge said.
The project involved a broad range of people and created a novel approach to increasing the safety of a particularly challenging stretch of highway. Some of the groups involved include, Environment Bay of Plenty, Ngati Ira o Waioweka, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Opus International Consultants Limited, PR Engineering Ltd, Moorland Services Ltd, Tracks Concrete (2002) Ltd, Michael Spedding, URBAN-I, Process Signs 1999 Ltd, Tairawhiti Museum, Dudley Meadows, Buff Trafford, Eastern Region Fish and Game NZ, NZ Police, Accident Compensation Corporation, Opotiki District Council, Gisborne District Council, Whakatane District Council, NZ Fire Service, NZ Road Transport Associations and NZ Automobile Association.
When: Saturday, 20th June 2009
Gisborne bus- meet at DOC Gisborne Office, 8.45 a.m.
Opotiki bus - meet at DOC Opotiki Office, 9.30 a.m.
Opato blessing - southern end of Waioeka Gorge, 10.00 a.m.
Powhiri and opening - Manganuku Campsite, 11.00 a.m.
Friday, 12th June 2009
Please contact the Opotiki DOC office
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +64 7 315 1001
The opening will take place at Manganuku Campsite and will include a powhiri from tangata whenua, Ngati Ira o Waioweka, brief opening ceremony and light lunch. Prior to the celebration at Manganuku, people are welcome to join Te Aitanga a Mahaki, tangata whenua of the southern part of the gorge, at a blessing of the Opato (Traffords Hill) entrance to ‘The Waioeka Journey – Te Awa a Tamatea’.
Bus transport from Opotiki and Gisborne will be available, but numbers will be limited.