Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moments in History

Kaiapoi Pa Memorial. March 2009. Ajr
When you stand in the grassy field that was once home to the old Kaiapoi Pa – in front of this immense and haunting memorial – it’s interesting to reflect upon the fact that it was once a bustling, ancient ‘industrial site,’ where Ngai Tahu ancestors imported and worked the prized pounamu for their own use and trade. The pa site was established by Turakautahi around the year 1700, after Ngai Tahu crossed over from the North Island. Originally called The Nest of Kaikai-a-Waro, Turakautahi’s descendants later changed the name to Kaiapohia, which became commonly known as Kaiapoi. It was regarded as the chief Ngai Tahu stronghold and, surrounded by waterways and wetlands on three sides, it provided a bountiful food supply of fish and birds. The pa was eventually destroyed by Te Rauparaha’s raids in 1832 and many lives were lost.

March 2009. Ajr
Today when you stand there, you’re likely to hear ‘industrial activities’ of a different kind – the massive nearby development of Pegasus Town, which has in fact, unearthed an archaeological site thought to pre-date Ngai Tahu. The ancient pa site was discovered on the site of planned golf course for the new town; but thanks to co-operation between developers and cultural advisors for Ngai Tahu and Te Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga, that’s now been moved saving the important cultural relics from destruction. The first major discovery – a burnt pou (post) is now at Auckland University, where it is being conserved and protected; and it is hoped that all archaeological finds will eventually be housed in a purpose-built whare taonga (cultural house) near the unearthed pa.

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