Stream buried, but not forgotten

20:52, Apr 04 2013
Waimapihi stream
BLESSING: Ra Vincent at the blessing of his sculpture at the new Z petrol station on Vivian St. The sculpture is carved out of brick from a culvert over the original Te Aro Stream which ran through the site.

The Waimapihi stream may be buried beneath the forecourt of a new Wellington petrol station, but its 600-year human history will not be forgotten.

This morning the new Z petrol station on Vivian St received a dawn blessing, including the unveiling of new sculpture built from century-old red bricks unearthed during the construction.

Last November, contractors building the station uncovered the stream running under the site, along with a 19th century culvert.

An archaeological investigation revealed the site had been used by local Maori since at least the 15th century.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust education coordinator Neavin Broughton, who was involved in examining the site's history, said middens, or old food waste dumps, on the site containing shells and old roots had been dated back 600 years.

The stream itself is said to be named after a Maori woman who is believed to have bathed there hundreds of years ago.

"This stream fed right into the Te Aro Pa and there has been continuous occupation for 600 years," he said.

"It is quite a significant site."

The sculpture was designed by Mapua sculptor and Oscar-nominee Ra Vincent, who has worked on set design for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and is a set decorator on The Hobbit Trilogy.

This morning Vincent said working with 100-year-od bricks was challenging.

The sculpture incorporates the bathing woman and depicts the way the stream may have looked hundreds of years ago, he said.

"It is also taken a little bit from the mouth of the stream in Aro Valley."

The path of stream has also been marked out on the station forecourt in blue.


The Dominion Post