Whanau members of those interred at Takahanga urupa met at the site on Sunday ahead of a major project which will see two landmark trees recreated into a work of art.
The two macrocarpa trees at the urupa, which can be seen from town, are old and beautiful, but they have been causing damage to the graves and headstones beneath them as they have outgrown the area. As well as damage from the tree roots, branches have been falling down around the site, so it was decided to remove the historic trees and prevent further harm.
The plan is to cut both trees down to about five or six metres, at which point they will be carved.
The fences around the site will be replaced and headstones repaired where necessary.
The project will be done in stages over a period of time and the area restored to a point where family members will be able to visit the area for quiet reflection and enjoy the surroundings.
A small group gathered at the site on Sunday. Brett Cowan performed a karakia and family members of those buried there laid down a piece of pounamu where a tap and large stone will eventually be placed to mark the entrance to the urupa.
It is not known how long the project will take, but those who attended on Sunday said it was exciting to see a project forming to improve the area and give respect to ancestors.