The concept for the Rangihoua Heritage Park was to create a pathway journey through the landscape of Rangihoua Pā and the early Mission Station of Hohi, and tell the story of the significance of the site.
Rangihoua Heritage Park
Key to the story of the site is emphasizing its significance and the relationship between Samuel Marsden, Ruatara and the foundations of accord that lay behind New Zealand’s first settlement.
We wanted to create a walking trail that didn’t impose on the landscape, but provided a series of sculptural markers that invite the visitor to continue on a journey.
The interpretation is always told in two voices, almost as a conversation, alternating the mission and Māori perspectives on the pou along the walkway. Along the trail, we introduce people who lived at the mission and at Rangihoua Pā, both Māori and Pākehā. We developed the content by consulting with a broad range of stakeholders on the project and each group contributed extensively.
The landscape determined many of the forms we chose for the interpretation, sometimes quite literally. We cast several relief maps in iron to provide a three dimensional depiction of the landscape. This creates a bird’s-eye orientation for place-based storytelling and a natural focal point to introduce and contextualize the experience.
Wherever we have heritage locations with distinct view shafts, the concept of illustrating the past becomes an option. For Rangihoua, we decided to depict the mission station area using three large illustrated scenes that captured Christmas Day 2014, the early mission in 1816, and the later mission in the 1820s. These snapshots were based on extensive archaeological consultation, drawing mainly from the work by Angela Middleton and Ian Smith for the University of Otago and their excavations on the site.
The end result is a new cultural tourism product in Northland, accessible by road and water. It creates a great day out for domestic and international visitors, with ideal locations for picnics as they explore the landscape. The Bay of Islands has a wonderful, interconnected heritage, and this project is just one part of that wider story that every visitor should explore.