With the existing entranceway having limited historic information and the carpark regularly overflowing due to the sheer number of visitors, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council-funded redevelopment is much needed.
Seconded to the Council, WSP Tauranga-based senior planner Matt Stulen is project managing the work. He’s been looking after the statutory planning side of things, assisting with stakeholder engagement, communications and procurement of contractors for the project. Specialists from WSP’s geotechnical and survey teams have also been involved.
Developed in partnership with representatives from Ngati He, Ngati Pukenga, Waitaha and Nga Potiki, the project’s detailed design features wide paths, beautiful cultural motifs, and a stunning array of native plants and grasses.
Five storyboards will highlight the park’s cultural history – telling the story of the area from when Māori first occupied it with pā (fortified settlements), through to early European settlement. The design also features a stepped seating area and large 3D bronze cast relief map of the park, which will highlight historic pā sites.
Soil consolidation and earthworks have already begun. With the Pāpāmoa Hills boasting over 1,500 recorded archaeological sites, excavations are proceeding slowly and methodically.
After applying for an archaeological authority from Heritage NZ, several test trenches were dug last year to see what lay beneath. No recorded sites were found in the park’s new entrance area.
Matt says the project has involved “as many consenting complexities as you can get”.
The site has an estimated 100 cubic metres of contaminated soil, caused years ago by a previous landowner burning treated fence posts. While this doesn’t pose a risk to human health, the soil will be removed and properly disposed of. A stream diversion is also required.
“It's been a hugely rewarding process navigating from concept design to detailed design and working with iwi and hapu to co-design a space that will have a huge community benefit and much improved recreational and educational values,” he says.
Following this month’s earthworks phase, planting out will happen during autumn and winter. Construction of the hard surfacing, including a brand-new carpark, is expected to start this October, with the facility ready and open by year-end.
The concept and detailed design have been done by jointly by Boffa Miskell and Whakatane-based Law Creative.
More information about the project can be found here on the Council’s website.