The history of Hamilton’s five local hapuu is the inspiration behind spectacular new artwork on the Waikato River.
The artwork has been incorporated into the new central city jetty, which is now open for anyone to use, below Waikato Museum. The new jetty is a floating pontoon that can rise and fall with river levels and replaces the previous fixed wooden structure.
Meanwhile, a new revetment wall running below the jetty, will help make the riverbank more accessible, so more people can enjoy the riverside.
The artwork includes five pou (pillars) featuring sculptures representing ancestral stories from local hapuu – Ngaati Maahanga, Ngaati Tamainupoo, Ngaati Wairere, Ngaati Korokii Kahukura and Ngaati Hauaa.
The jetty and new revetment wall opened after a blessing today (27 July).
Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor, who heads Hamilton City Council’s Central City and River Plan Advisory Group, said the new-look jetty shows Council’s ongoing commitment to the Hamilton City River Plan.
“It hits all the themes in the plan, from improving public access to the river to making sure our river projects create opportunities to celebrate arts, culture and communicate stories about the city’s history,” he said.
“The Ferrybank area was important to early Maaori as a landing place for large waka. Now we have a more functional jetty, we can continue that heritage by encouraging more people to use the river for transport, whether that’s through recreational boating, river tourism or using a future ferry service.”
Taylor said the projects are an important part of shaping a vibrant central city where people love to be. The long-term vision for the central city includes construction of the Waikato Regional Theatre and a proposed pedestrian bridge, alongside completed projects such as Victoria on the River.
Mayor Paula Southgate agreed and said was it was fabulous to see the jetty open.
“More than seven years ago, I stood on the old wharf with former Hamilton City Councillor John Gower, both of us pushing for better use of the river for visitors and commuters. So I’m thrilled to see this new central city jetty.”
“I took the river ferry to Fieldays recently and it was a great experience. I look forward to more Hamiltonians enjoying our treasured Waikato River.”
Design of the five pou on the jetty was a collaboration between hapuu representatives and artist Eugene Kara, Ngaati Korokii Kahukura.
Kara said the design was inspired by the stories told within each hapuu about their genealogy and history.
“The sculptures represent stories of the whenua, awa and taangata – the land, river and people, interwoven over the years into a deep, spiritual connection,” he said.
Sacred geometric symbols and colours were chosen for their historical relevance to each hapuu and a wider whakaaro Maaori meaning.
The jetty replacement is one of three Waikato River Works projects, bundled together to save time and money. The cost of the new jetty came to $1.03 million and final costs for the revetment wall were approximately $3.03 million.