News | 16 March 2023
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We’re rolling out the woven mat and revealing significant sites along the way

Hidden waterways and sites of historic cultural significance are being revealed throughout Pōneke as part of the city’s bike network.

Sites of Significance road Markings: Botanic Gardens to City Route Launch 2023
Cultural overlay markers for sites of significance being installed on Bowen Street

Distinctive new blue and green designs are being installed in places along the Newtown to City and Botanic Garden ki Paekākā routes. 


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They are the first of many routes where Mana Whenua Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui will raise the mana of special places and bring a Te Ao Māori perspective to these important transport improvements.


Designer Len Hetet says cultural narratives or stories are powerful ways to connect our past to our present and create touch points that engage and educate people on what it means to be mana whenua. Taranaki Whānui has worked with Wellington City Council to develop Whārikitia te Whenua, the cultural design story for the network. 


“Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui narrative speaks of the great tupua Whātaitai and Ngake, who fashioned the land using seismic activity to create Te Whanganui a Tara,” shares Len. “For mana whenua this is likened to the gifting of a whāriki laid upon earth mother which intrinsically connects and binds us to the land and sea.”


The term ‘whāriki’ refers both to the plaiting technique and the mats made from it. The plaiting technique requires papa or individual patterned panels to be woven, which are then connected by intertwining threads to form a woven mat. 


The bike network design rationale allows mana whenua to identify and acknowledge our papa as areas of cultural significance, and to embed the mouri (life force) into these areas, using the bike network as a metaphorical interwoven thread to bind them.


To help bring the Whārikitia te Whenua story to life, Taranaki Whānui has worked with Wellington City Council to develop the cultural expressions that link the narratives and whāriki together, which Wellingtonians will soon see when they are out and about.


Whārikitia te Whenua acknowledges we are guardians of this land and we must look after it to survive,” says Len. “Providing the means for more people to move safely through spaces while acknowledging the rich cultural history is one of the ways we are doing that.”

Close up of Sites of Significance road Markings: Botanic Gardens to City Route Launch 2023

On the Newtown to city route, there are four key sites: 

  • Ngā Puna Waiora, the area between Adelaide Road and Riddiford Street, referring to the many streams flowing down the hills in the vicinity of Newtown, from the 'Te Ranga a Hiwi' ridge that runs in a North/South direction from Matairangi (Mt Victoria).
  • Hauwai Mahinga Kai, a site at the Basin Reserve. Hauwai is an earlier name (like many others in our takiwā) from Ngāti Tara, in particular, and Ngāti Hinewai, that occupied the Akatarewa Pā above the Mt Vic Tunnel. It was referred to as a māra kai area designated in and around the current Basin Reserve area.
  • Ngā Whenu o te Whāriki, catchments for Waitangi Awa in the area along Cambridge and Kent terraces.
  • Waitangi Pūroro, the lagoon that was once where the Embassy Theatre now stands.

Between Botanic Garden ki Paekākā and the city, niho taniwha will also be installed to acknowledge where the route crosses underground streams or rivers, including: 


  •  Pipitea Awa
  • Waipiro Awa
  • Tutaenui Awa

Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui is also working in partnership with Wellington City Council, Waka Kotahi and Greater Wellington on the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, and other regional projects associated with Wellington’s bike network. 



'Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui tupua rau, he auripo i te manga iti, he auripo i te manga nui, he kaitiaki ki te whenua'.


While many of our water tributaries are also unseen, the ripples still present themselves. As long as there are ripples in our many water tributaries, there will always be a Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui kaitiaki on land.


Whārikitia te whenua

A woven mat tattooed upon the skin of Papatuānuku (earth mother) 

A treasure gifted, by the great phenomenon Whātaitai and Ngake

The waters sent from Ranginui (sky father) to soothe her scarred flesh.

A woven mat that connects and binds us to the land and sea