About The Te Ahu Project

The Site

Three site options were fully considered after consulting with various community groups

  • Jaycee Park
  • South Road (encompassing the Community Centre & Te Runanga o Te Rarawa site)
  • Redan Road – corner of Commerce Street (encompassing the car park and FNDC Service Centre site)

Jaycee Park was rejected early, given the community’s response to the importance of maintaining the open green space.

Redan Road / Commerce Street site had some appeal but presented some significant issues, particularly around flooding and the limited scope to increase the facility footprint to allow for future growth.

South Road was the site most preferred as it allowed for future expansion and it quickly became apparent that a vision to create a single recreational, educational and cultural hub could be realised at that location. Also, it would develop the south end of town.

Te Ahu Kaitaia
concept design : site plan

The Designs

Under Construction

The Logo

Designed by Tuitui Art
Described by Waikarere Gregory (a Kaitaia artist of Te Rarawa descent)
This design combines historical and cultural information pertaining to Kaitaia and the Far North, drawing on traditional Maori art forms, yet resulting in a contemporary piece. It has the potential to stand alone as a free-standing sculptural piece or as an art piece to adorn the front of the Te Ahu Complex.

Contained within the design are the concepts of pathways, meeting and a definite forward movement evident in the koru forms. The central kowhaiwhai pattern is what I refer to as the manawa line or heart line – symbolic of what I envision the complex to be. Being the heart of the community, a central hub/meeting place from which things flow and into which flows much energy. Again, this is symbolic of the blood of our various peoples, connecting us back to our tupuna/ancestors, to ourselves of today and those yet to be born.

I also like to see the fading presence of the manawa line as a reference to our watery surrounds – our beautiful coasts. And this serves as a reminder to the flow of water within and of our own wairua. The tetekura or unfurling fern fronds represent new growth, progress, potential yet realised, wairua and, as the whakatauki goes, as one dies another grows to take its place. The shadow lying below refers back to the words of Nopera Panakareao (famous ancestor of the Kaitaia region who signed the Treaty of Waitangi here at Te Ahu in 1840) – words, it is said, that moved many into signing the document. The digit like ends of the large koru are as fingers reaching out to welcome manuhiri, to embrace the locals and stretching up to the heights of Ranginui, and as toes firmly grounding us on Papatuanuku.

This design pulls together not only the people of the North but their history too, as well as presenting a warm and positive image to visitors to the area.

This logo was enthusiastically embraced by all involved with Te Ahu. How appropriate the kaupapa is to our dream and how suited it is to the logo, proposed facility and location. The logo was celebrated at a special blessing in December 2007. The celebration was attended by and involved local Kaumatua, dignitaries, Trustees and community representatives.

Who was involved in the project

In addition to the Trustees, who are all donating their time, expertise, experience and commitment to the project, there are a number of people who are assisting the trustees to ensure a successful outcome to this project. They are:


Haami Piripi : Chair, Te Runanga o Te Rarawa
John Popata jnr : Ngati Kahu
Charlie Larkins : Ngati Kahu
Paul Marshall : Tohunga Whakairo
Nina Gobie : Customer Services Manager North, FNDC & Secretary for Te Ahu Charitable Trust
Peter Jackson : Media
Mark Osborne : General / Project Manager
Steve La Hood – Story Inc.

Steven Bramley : Strategic Funding Advisor (SGL Funding Limited)
Alan Simpkin : Arcline Design & Project Management
Doug Beard : Beard Parsonson Associates
Joey Parsonson : Beard Parsonson Associates
John Whitlow : KPH Construction
Brady Wild : Transfield Services
Russel Jecentho : Fulton Hogan
Richard Murray – Imagenation Ltd


Terms of Reference for iwi determination of the cultural themes and aspects of the Te Ahu Centre for community activities


The initiative to establish the centre came from and was supported by a number of individuals and organisations. These included Te Runanga o te Rarawa and Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu and representation from those hapū who are mana whenua in Kaitāia, namely, Te Paatu, Ngai Tohianga and Te Tahaawai Hapū of Kaitāia, Oturu and Pukepoto. This early involvement ensured that iwi participated in the design of the concept and the nature of the facility. They supported the aims of the Komiti by joining the Trust and mandating the name Te Ahu. As trustees they have also participated in the Trust approval process, including the adoption and the launch of the Te Ahu logo designed by Waikarere Gregory.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa also agreed to make land available for lease at South Road, Kaitaia as a contribution to the overall kaupapa.

Both Te Runanga o Te Rarawa and Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu have contributed to the concept with ideas and plans for the establishment of an iconic cultural facility that accurately projects the mana, history and identity of the iwi and tangata katoa of Te Hiku o Te Ika.

The representatives for Ngāti Kahu and Te Rarawa on the project team are Charlie Larkins and Haami Piripi.

The first theme (Poutokomanawa) developed by the Trust is the presentation of the facility as a cultural icon that reflects the histories, ancestors and values of the tangata whenua. This is to be reflected in the site, the building design, individual building components, the landscaping and the governance and management of the complex.

This aspiration provides the context for our iwi contribution and allows us to identify where and how our stories and culture can contribute. Each iwi and maybe hapu will have specific perspectives that need to be reflected and there will eventually be a process for determining where and how these taonga will be expressed.

For the first time in our history the combined peoples of the Far North have an opportunity to establish a fully integrated facility that is an accurate reflection of our past, present and future.

The second theme is the emphasis upon Te Hiku o Te Ika and upon attracting manaaki tāngata attributes of the Far North. We want them to leave in wonder of what they have experienced at the Tail of the Fish of Maui.


The third theme is aligned with current initiatives to establish a network of walking tracks throughout the Far North. The emphasis on tracks has been taken up by the Trust with a particular focus upon the “Arawairua” as the ultimate track and as a mysterious icon of the Maori people. Also reflected in the logo design is a theme referred to by the artist as a “manawa” or heart line that connects to the beat of every individual of the area Pakeha or Maori, host or visitor.

The last theme (Kia Kotahi tatou), that has been developed, is that Dalmatian and other Pakeha immigrants and settlers have joined our ranks as real iwi now.

Paul Marshall has been appointed as master carver by the Trust and we have to understand that the great deeds of our ancestors may well become distilled into more specific examples of design and art forms.

Because of the nature of this work we have already begun to source materials and prepare a central site for doing most of the work. However, iwi will undoubtedly have artisans among ourselves who we will wish to participate and perhaps we can establish working outposts which involve and train our young people.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa is seeking to establish programmes of this nature over the next few months and we will also be approaching the Department of Conservation and others to access cultural resources to help with the work.

Na reira e hara tenei he kōrero tohutohu, heoi ano he kōrero whakamārama ki a koutou e whaiwhakaaro ana, e ngākau nui ana ki tēnei kaupapa ātaahua, matakite rānei. Tukuna mai ō koutou kupu whakamārama kia tū rangatira ai te tirohanga Māori me ōna kaupapa whakahirhira. Engari me āta titiro tonu kia kore e moumou, e kore e takahia rānei te ikeiketanga o tō tātou ao Māori.


Corner of Mathews Avenue and
South Road (SH1)
Kaitaia, New Zealand
Phone: 09 408 9453


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