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The missing Waikawa Beach Road Heritage Trail sign

Historic Waikawa sign.
Photo by Miraz Jordan.

I forget when I first noticed the Heritage Trail sign along Waikawa Beach Road (near number 560) but I know it's been there for a number of years.
Or at least it was there. Round about May 2021 a car crashed into the nearby fence which knocked the sign off its posts and broke the perspex covering it.
Some time later (months) the broken sign was removed.

I emailed Horowhenua District Council in about March 2022 asking when the sign would be restored. My assumption was that they had removed it.
After some time I received a reply and then there was some email follow-up. The outcome of that discussion was that Horowhenua District Council weren't responsible for the sign, didn't know who was, and couldn't help any further.

The sign is not a Council Sign and I have been in contact with Horowhenua Historical Society and they are not able to help either. Sorry we are not able to help you anymore with this.

Next I turned to the Heritage Horowhenua Charitable Trust.
After a few days they replied:

As far as we are aware the sign was one of several that were established & paid for by a millenium grant. As such this sign does not belong to anyone. That's why the council wouldn't know anything about it.

Aha! Progress. My next step was to try the Lotteries Grants Board who were probably in charge of Millenium Grants, back around 2000. I have a query in with them and while they responded immediately to clarify a couple of points, I haven't yet heard back with anything useful.

The Heritage Trail sign

The sign was located at spot along the road where Te Rauparaha was supposed to have had a pa.
The text of the sign read:

The early inhabitants had many pa in the area until the 1820's when they were defeated and driven out by Te Rauparaha who built his first pa here. He later allocated Waikawa to the Ngati Wehi Wehi who established the Manga Pirau Pa near the then existing lagoon of the same name. This lagoon described as teeming with fish and game was destroyed by an earthquake in 1855. Later, other pa, Kauwhata, Kotere and Kete-Maringi were built further inland. A moa bone find in the ?taha swamp shows that the ancient Waitaha (moa hunters) probably lived here.
European settlement began in 1844 when Thos. Bevan built his home and ropewalk. The Waikawa and Ohau rivers then had a common mouth and coastal trading ships entered the river to load rope, flax and produce. A flour mill operated from about 1847 and later, many flax mills. From 1852 George Bevan ran a hotel serving the Coach Road which ran through here as did the telegraph line. In 1856 Bevan built the house later known as the Drake Homestead, a landmark in the area for over 100 years.

Between the two columns of text was a map of locations.

According to Kete Horowhenua:

In the spring of 1822 the Ngati Toa arrived at Waikawa and began to settle in. Te Rauparaha was impressed. The site was very favourable for his needs. It was located about one and a half kilometres in from the sea on the south bank of the Waikawa Stream. 12 A new pa known as Pa Te Rauparaha was built well sheltered by the high Ohaka dune from the prevailing north-westerlies of the Horowhenua coast. The stream and a number of lagoons nearby teemed with eels, the soil was fertile and provided good growing conditions for both the kumera and the potato seeds that the tribe brought with them, and planted for the first time in the southern North Island. There were also large resources of aruhe, the edible root of the bracken fern, and there was easy access to the resources of the beach, the open sea and lowland forests.

I'm still trying to follow up on this matter.
I believe this site holds great historical significance and is one that should definitely be marked by a sign. I think the Waikawa Beach community should attempt to have this sign reinstated or replaced. Is anyone else interested in helping to make this happen?
If so, or if you can help with more information, please contact me at news@wow-waikawa.nz. 

This item was updated on 6 May 2022 18:03:45