Stories of manawhenua told at popular Mackenzie Basin tourist spot

31 March 2021

A sign installed at Tapataia Mahaka/Peters Lookout on Highway 80 to Aoraki (Mt Cook) tells the stories of manawhenua in Te Manahuna (Mackenzie Basin).

Sign at Tapataia Mahaka

Tapataia Mahaka/Peters Lookout offers one of the best views of Lake Pūkaki and Aoraki (Mount Cook), New Zealand’s highest mountain, and is a popular stop for tourists.

The name Tapataia Mahaka was gifted to Peters Lookout and recognises the historic mahinga kai (food gathering) settlement situated on the edge of Lake Pūkaki.

In early 2020 Toitū Te Whenua (Land Information New Zealand) and Waka Kotahi completed improvements at the site to better accommodate the thousands of visitors who stop there each year. Works included the removal of wilding pines blocking the view, construction of a toilet block, and landscaping. A track has also been built so visitors can safely and easily walk to the shore of Lake Pūkaki.

Late last year there was a short ceremony at Tapataia Mahaka when the sign was unveiled. Upoko of Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, David Higgins blessed the site on behalf of local iwi Ngāi Tahu. 

“Te Manahuna (Mackenzie Basin) is of great significance to Ngāi Tahu and it is wonderful to see our history and stories reflected in the landscape. The restoration of our traditional Māori place names is hugely important to us, and it is great to give life to our ancient place names like Tapataia Mahaka,” says David Higgins. 

Stories and images about the area’s cultural significance are reflected in the new sign and LINZ Group Manager Biosecurity and Biodiversity, Megan Reid says this will enrich locals and visitors understanding of the area.  

“The sign weaves together the cultural, historical, and natural significance of the area so that visitors who stop to take in the view gain an understanding of the importance of Te Manahuna Aoraki (Mackenzie Basin).”

For more information about the Ngāi Tahu history of Te Manahuna visit the Ngāi Tahu digital atlas, Kā Huru Manu

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