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Iwi narrative infused into New Plymouth Airport terminal building.

“Puketapu kōrero ka irihia! Puketapu whenua ka horahia! Puketapu tāngata ka tauria!”
Puketapu narrative – behold and admire! Puketapu land – tenured by its indigenous people! Puketapu people – connected and present!

Friday 13th March 2020. As the dawn emerged from the darkness of night, a cultural chorus of tāonga pūoro, karanga, karakia and waiata poi resonated through the crisp morning air signalling the beginning of the dawn ceremony of the newly built New Plymouth Airport terminal. It was time for Puketapu hapū to showcase and promote their tangata whenua heritage through cultural expression; an expression of mana whenua, an expression of mana tangata.

Over the past three years, Puketapu hapū has worked tirelessly to weave their narrative into the architecture of the building contributing enormously to design and space. Immediately inside the western entrance of the building and next to the living green wall stands a toka whakamaumahara (memorial stone) where whānau have the opportunity to place a wreath of remembrance to acknowledge those who have passed on. This space opens up into a grand foyer where airport passenger services are carried out. This includes check-in areas, arrivals and departures lounges, two cafe areas of note and at the far eastern end of the building the arrival baggage carousel. To one corner, Puketapu hapū have secured a space to operate a retail store called Tātai. Check out their Facebook page.

Featuring predominately along the northern internal wall of the building is an 80-metre long mural

depicting the journey of Rongoueroa, an earthly being and Tamarau, a celestial deity. The narrative begins with Rongoueroa emerging from a sculptured garden setting immediately outside the western wall of the complex. The evolving story continues into the inner western wall heavily cloaked with

living plants. It continues high along the northern wall with images conveying the storyline of Rongoueroa meeting with the celestial deity Tamarau. Tamarau is depicted by the rays of Tama-nui-te-rā radiating high along the far eastern side of the building above the baggage carousel. Tamarau descends from the heavens towards the earthly being of Rongoueroa coming together in union.

This union is immortalised by a carved figure representing Awa-nui-a-rangi, the offspring of Rongoueroa and Tamarau. Framed by a glass installation, the location of the carved figure is considered as the tūāhu of the terminal or the sacred place for ritual practices. This tūāhu is a significant setting where whānau returning from travelling afar and visitors alike can acknowledge the special whakapapa connection that Puketapu hapū has with the landscape. It is also space where whānau and others can reflect on the indigenous narrative illuminating from the walls of the building.

At the conclusion of karakia and waiata poi, speeches were delivered honouring the significance of the occasion and the attendance of the multitude. Kaikōrero included Rangi Skipper who gave an explanation of the mahi toi / art works and Theresa Patu on behalf of Puketapu hapū. At the conclusion of their speeches, Puketapu hapū entertained those present with waiata as breakfast was served. A special day for all involved and an exceptional day for Puketapu hapū.

Tamarau nō runga i te rangi, Rongoueroa nō roto i te whenua, Puketapu nō roto ana mai i te ngākau tāngata hue hā! hue hā!

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