National | History

$1m crowdfunding campaign to buy historic site in Waikato

A Waikato hapū has launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy back a piece of land in Ngāruawāhia at the site of the historic Pukeiāhua Pā.

The patch of land off Great South Rd, with seven food pits, has been a part of River Terraces development, earmarked for 39 houses.

Development at the site was stopped in May 2020, to resolve adispute over the historic gardens.

$1 million to fundraise

Waikato hapū, Ngāti Tamainupō, today launched their plan to crowdfund $1 million through the online Givealittle platform, to help buy the historic garden site.

The launch of the crowdfunding campaign coincides with the release of a new vision for Pukeiāhua as a public space with community gardens and orchards, nature-based playground, kōhanga reo, community events centre and amphitheatre overlooking the Waikato River.

Protect Pukeiāhua spokeperson, Kimai Huirama, says, “Exactly one year ago, we stopped the developer from excavating a site which is culturally significant to the hapū.

"Today, we are focused on sharing a vision with our community to protect this whenua for future generations.”

The Pukeiāhua crowdfunding proposal has been set up as an ‘all-or-nothing’ campaign.

If the target of $1 million is not reached within six months, all donations must be returned.

Ngāti Tamainupō says that while there is a risk of failing to meet their target, the hapū is confident that Aotearoa and the global community will get in behind the project.

Protecting tūpuna gardens

Ngāti Tamainupō kaumātua, David Huirama says, “We are standing here to protect the last of our tūpuna gardens.

"My view is that we either ‘go hard or go home’. And we are not going away.”

Last year, the developer offered to sell the land to the hapū once it knew about its significance.

Ngāti Tamainupō is moving forward with this offer, in good faith, and the crowdfunding proposal is just one aspect of their fundraising strategy.

Kimai Huirama says, “We know $1 million dollars is just under half of what we will need to buy the land.

"However, we think it will send a message about community support for this project and motivate potential partners like the Waikato District Council to come to the table."

Ngāti Tamainupō does not believe a hapū campaign of this nature and scale has been done before.

Huirama says, “Imagine Ngaruawahia in 2040. As the town changes and grows, how will Ngaruawahia retain its unique identity?

"Our vision is simple. Let’s launch the town into a future which breathes life into stories of our past.”