Pā site should be green space, not apartments - Ngāti Wairere

By Will Trafford

Sonning car park in Claudelands – an old pā site home to up to  300 cars a day – is being considered for redevelopment.  (FILE).

A Hamilton City Council car park, once the site of a pā, should be returned to green space, instead of being developed, a Ngāti Wairere historian says.

Wiremu Puke (Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) says the redevelopment of the Sonning carpark is an opportunity for the council to atone for placing it over the Ngāti Wairere pā site, in the first place.

“I think it’s a good chance for the council to redeem itself,” Puke tells Stuff.

The pā site once extended from the carpark near the Waikato river across to Jesmond Park.

According to Puke, the location is believed to have been abandoned following the passing of its rangatira, Poukawa, in the late 1840s or early 1850s.

He says just because a site is abandoned, doesn't mean the history is erased.

“It usually becomes a burial ground,” he says.

Puke says the site should be re-established, with earthworks for ditches and ramparts.

Poukawa was a signatory to Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Port Waikato and Puke says the site should help people of today connect with the area's past.

“It would be good to have a pou (raised pole) depicting him ... and to symbolise the city’s connection with a signatory of the treaty,” he says.

A display honouring Ngāti Wairere tīpuna who fought during the New Zealand land wars at Rangiriri in 1863 was also an option, Puke says.

“You’ve got a war memorial at Memorial Park [in Hamilton] but there’s nothing that commemorates our Wairere tūpuna who fought at Rangiriri,” Puke says.

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