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Lit-up artwork opens Unahi Wharf Carpark upgrade

A stunning Hoe artwork, symbolising a paddle, lit up a blessing held on Saturday 6 April to mark the completion of the Unahi Wharf Carpark Upgrade Project.

The carpark upgrade is the second stage of a revamp of wharf facilities. The first stage saw the rebuild of the wharf itself and was completed in June 2022. Some original wharf timber, discovered during demolition, was estimated to be 100 years old. This historic timber has been repurposed into elements of the carpark upgrade.

As well as rustic metal artworks by Darrin Pivac representing a Hoe (paddle) and Punga (anchor), the carpark upgrade included the installation of a dry vault toilet block, drainage, pavement works, sealing of the the carpark area, and an extension of seal on Unahi Road which leads to the carpark.

Timber repurposed from the original wharf has been crafted into a new ‘Welcome to Unahi’ sign, as well as three new bench seats. Wooden panels next to the Hoe outline the history of the area and two concrete picnic tables have also been added nearby.

Unahi, north of Awanui, is the traditional gateway to the Rangaunu Harbour for Māori and was used for the preparation of freshly caught fish. The name Unahi translates as ‘to scale fish’.

The triangular shape of the metal Hoe represents the three water currents that enter the Rangaunu waters – from the Awanui, Waimanoni and Waipapakauri. The rusty brown surface of the art piece is a call to stop the pollution and damage to these waters. The green light within the Hoe is a nod to the navigation light used to communicate with approaching vessels. The Punga artwork, which sits inside the Hoe structure, is made of stone and represents the mooring waka of the many hapū that settled within the shores of Rangaunu Harbour.

A history panel at the upgraded wharf also outlines the story of the Walker family. From 1928 to 2020, three generations of Walkers were the Harbour Masters. They were involved in the installation of an early beacon system for steam boats, then radio communication for incoming ships and, later, a battery-powered beacon system.

The project team would like to thank:

  • Marty and Helen Ward from High Voltage Custom Metals, who worked closely with Darrin Pivac to create the metal Hoe. Darrin Pivac’s whakapapa is to Waimanoni and Ngāi Takoto.
  • Rob Bennie and the Kiwi Carpentry team for the timber and foundation work and installation of the dry vault toilet.
  • Fish Jones - Kinectic Electrical for the installation of the lighting.

Below – the metallic Hoe art piece sits at the Unahi Wharf next to a panel outlining the history of the area and the Walker family connection.

Below – artist Darrin Pivac crafted the Hoe and Punga pieces to reflect the geology and importance of the area to local hapū.

Below – the history panel includes information about the connection of local hapū to the area on one side.

Below – the welcome sign crafted by repurposed timber from to the original wharf, gets the approval of local elected members.

Below – the newly sealed carpark area and extended seal along Unahi Road.

Below – the dry vault toilet block, a non-flush toilet that stores waste in an underground tank.