National | Cycle Bridge

Māori design influence striking feature of new Hamilton footbridge

Photo / Supplied

Māori cultural and design influence is a significant feature of a new cycling and pedestrian bridge in Hamilton.

The footbridge - which crosses over Wairere Drive extension to the new suburb of Peacocke - incorporates two striking 25-metre-tall steel masts which were lifted into place on Friday.

The taurapa feature artwork co-designed by artist Eugene Kara (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Ngāti Tipa, Ngāti Koata) and the project's southern links tangata whenua working group.

Photo / Supplied

The group proposed the concept of a waharoa (gateway) to identify the threshold of crossing the Waikato River into Peacocke, as the footbridge sits alongside where Wairere Drive extension meets Hamilton's Waikato River bridge.

“The newly installed masts represent a waharoa for river crossing and were inspired by traditional waka taurapa, the carved canoe stern piece,” the project's kaiarahi-kaitiaki Marina Hape said, speaking on behalf of the tangata whenua group.

Each side of the masts face ngā hau e whā (the four winds) and acknowledge the connection between hapū across the rohe.

The predominant motif is the takarangi - an intersecting spiral pattern that can be commonly seen on the stern posts of waka, door lintels of carved wharenui and other carved forms denoting a significant threshold.

“Cultural symbolism and storytelling have been incorporated into different parts of this project, in collaboration and partnership with iwi and tangata whenua,” Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said in a statement.

“We’re starting to see the outcomes of our partnership through the taurapa, creating a special taonga or treasure for our city. It is so special to see beautiful elements woven into this project that tell a story about this place.”