A new multi-purpose building will be built on Kaitī Hill in Gisborne, as part of the Te Taumata o Tītīrangi Summit (Kaiti Hill) redevelopment in a partnership between Ngāti Oneone and the Gisborne District Council.
Work has begun to stabilise the land and remove the old observatory building.
Speaking on behalf of Ngāti Oneone, Ranell Nikora says, “The iwi wholeheartedly support cutting the summit because it's not the original summit, it was cut before WWII.”
The iwi did not support the construction of the observatory in the 1970s, but now they're working with the council on the new project.
“An agreement was signed, called the Titirangi Accord, by our elders and has been passed down to us now," says Nikora.
Titirangi is the ancestral mountain of Ngāti Oneone. The pā that stood on Tītīrangi was called Whare-kōrero, a significant settlement of Māori and host to many chiefs over the years, one of its early residents of great influence was the noble Hamo-te-rangi (circa 1475).
"There was a Māori school of esoteric lore here, to my knowledge, for astronomy so that spiritual essence is coming back to this mountain, those narratives are returning to this mountain," says Nikora, who believes the new multi-purpose facility will be a place of learning for all.
“The hope is that it will be an educational facility, perhaps it will be an observatory, a place to talk about the environment, the stories of old.”
Iwi and the council will engage with the community on designs over the next year.