New highway and Battle of Rangiriri commemoration site opened
Crown/Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis joined representatives of Waikato-Tainui today to celebrate the completion of both the Rangiriri Section of the Waikato Expressway and the Battle of Rangiriri commemoration site.
This new 4.8km section of the Waikato Expressway opened to traffic earlier this year, but works have continued on both the roading project and on the site of the historic Rangiriri Paa. The paa site was significantly damaged by a 1965 upgrade to State Highway 1.
“The Rangiriri project is far more than roading infrastructure. The project is a symbol of the Crown’s dedication to partnering with tangata whenua and righting past wrongs,” Mr Davis says.
“Thanks to our partners on this project, Waikato-Tainui, we have been able to deliver a section of expressway that will provide safer, more efficient journeys. More than this, the project provides a monument to the cultural and historical importance of Rangiriri.”
The site of the 1863 Battle of Rangiriri is of particular cultural and historic importance for Waikato-Tainui, and is now home to a scaled reinterpretation of the original fortified paa. The site has been developed with a focus on education, with large pou (carved posts) telling the story of the area and marking the battle trench down to the Waikato River. The Waikato Expressway project has taken the road closer to the river.
Waikato-Tainui spokesperson Rukumoana Schaafhausen says the iwi has worked closely with the Transport Agency to preserve the cultural and historical significance of Rangiriri site.
“Rangiriri will be a significant site in New Zealand for continuing education about the battle and the Land Wars. It will also be a place for contemplation not only for our iwi but for all New Zealanders.”
“The roading and paa projects together are an important symbol of the successful partnership between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui, realising a vision of the past while building for the future.”