Team restores cairn

TE ARAROA CAIRN: Volunteer Judy Begg places fern leaves on the  reconstructed cairn.
TE ARAROA CAIRN: Volunteer Judy Begg places fern leaves on the reconstructed cairn.

A team headed by Kerikeri sculptor Chris Booth has reconstructed the Te Araroa Cairn.

In 1995, when Te Araroa opened its first connecting link between Kerikeri and Waitangi, trail founder Geoff Chapple asked Chris for a suitable sculpture, and Chris sited the cairn inside the Waitangi forest.

In the late 1990s, vandals used a 4WD vehicle to push the cairn over a bank.

They also damaged the nearby foundation stone that marked the trail opening by then-prime minister Jim Bolger and Tai Tokerau kaumatua Sir Graham Latimer.

A team of six people working over four days has now reinvigorated the site.

The work involved cutting the sculpture free of its base, and turning it upside down for repair.

The team cemented in a protective semi-circle of rocks donated by Puketona Quarry, and strengthened the cairn itself with a central galvanised pipe donated by Fell Engineering.

The cairn is on Te Puke forest road, accessible on foot or bike, 1km in from Mt Bledisloe at the Waitangi end, or 9km in from Kerikeri Inlet Rd.

Geoff Chapple was part of the team that renewed the site.

"The original sculpture marked the beginning of what became a 19-year effort to put in a New Zealand-long walking trail," Chapple says.

"That trail is now open, is well-known and well-used. It's a trail for anyone to use and we hope the Maori and Pakeha blessing we gave the cairn at its renewal will give it sanctity."

Bay Chronicle