Archives For Manawatu

Exploring the Manawatu Gorge tracks has to be at the top of the list of ‘must-do’ activities in the Manawatu region.

This photo was taken by Alistair Thom of Atom Images at Sentinel Lookout which is halfway along the Manawatu Gorge Track.


The shorter Tawa Loop Walk and the full length Manawatu Gorge Track are on offer as part of the Manawatu Walking Festival coming up in February – March 2014.

The festival has walks for all ages and fitness levels, hosted by an array of guides – from historians through to storytellers, nature experts, experienced walkers and photographers – who will share their knowledge to help enhance your walking experience. Visit The Manawatu Walking Festival website to find out more.

Related links

Manawatu Gorge Track
Manawatu Gorge Tawa Loop Walk
Manawatu Walking Festival

By Christine Elers, Teacher at Hāpaitia Kōhanga Reo

Thanks to the initiatives of the iwi authority for Ngāti Kauwhata in the Feilding/Manawatū area, the plight of the whio came to our attention at Hāpaitia Kōhanga Reo in 2012 .

Two whio swimming in a river.


Our kōhanga reo operates with a Kauwhata-Raukawa Māori world view.  It’s common to hear our children talking about their experiences at their marae, singing about the appearance of Matariki (Pleiades) in the winter sky, and our kinship ties to the Kīngitanga.  Knowing that the endangered whio duck inhabits our Oroua river meant the ‘Save the Whio’ was a project that we just had to be involved in.

Over 90% of our whānau have whakapapa or genealogical connections to Ngāti Kauwhata and Ngāti Raukawa ki te tonga.  Our children and whānau have strong, spiritual connections to the whenua (land) and the awa (river) of this urban and rural community.  We honour and nurture these connections in many ways.

The kohanga reo children sing at the Feilding Farmers’ Market.

Singing at the Feilding Farmers’ Market

Our children, like many young children love to sing.  In 2012 during Whio Awareness Month, the organisers of the Feilding Farmers’ Market kindly allowed our children to perform kapahaka to raise funds to help save the whio on the Oroua river. Our children raised nearly $100 from their 8 minute performance. Our parents got involved by helping our children make placards and information sheets about the whio for the public, by taking front row seats to proudly watch their children, and by donating to the cause.  We decided that we will be involved in helping the whio on the Oroua river every year!

Whio Awareness Month came around again in March 2013. This time our tamariki helped bake blueberry muffins, and we offered a muffin and a waiata to organisations in Feilding as another fundraising activity for the whio.  Many thanks go to the Manchester House Social Services, the Manawatū District Council, Te Runanga o Raukawa – Feilding and North Street School for hosting our children for this event.  These organisations collectively donated over $200 to assist the whio.

To acknowledge our support, the Department of Conservation kindly gave our children a stuffed toy whio.  We have named her Pio the Whio. If a child is having an emotional moment, they take solace in the mutual comfort of Pio the Whio.

The children sing a song near Pio the soft toy whio.

Singing a waiata for Pio the whio

The children understand that we all are responsible to tiaki or look after the whio in the wild. In the future we hope to make a trip to see the whio in its natural habitat on the Oroua river – about a one hour hike away – and there’s no guarantee that we will actually see it.  Until then our children can watch clips of the whio on YouTube, look at photos, and draw their own pictures of the whio that we all hope to see one day soon, alive and well in their own natural habitat.

Margaret Metcalfe from the Manawatu Rangitikei Area Office writes about a novel approach being taken to paint a new backcountry toilet in the Ruahine ranges.

It is not often you would look forward to the experience of using a backcountry toilet. However, an interesting approach to finishing new visitor facilities in the Western Ruahine Forest Park will have people wanting to make the trip especially to check them out.

Julie Oliver painting the toilet.

Painting the loo

Inspired by seeing public toilets painted with murals, Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Assets Manager Andrew Mercer thought he could bring a similar concept to the new outbuildings at Rangiwahia Hut. “I wanted the new toilet and woodshed to complement the landscape and to tell a conservation story,” he said, “and at the same time add another element to the visitor experience, something that might encourage people come up especially to see”. This is a very special location for its breathtaking views on to the Ruahine range and active bird life. And the murals reinforce these aspects.

Julie waving while painting the backcountry toilet.

Saying hello

A conversation with Mangaweka artist Julie Oliver sparked the project off. She jumped at the opportunity, saying it was just the challenge she needed to give herself a break from her usual style of painting fine detail in oils. It wasn’t until she was actually on site that she could finalise her ideas. The results are simply incredible! Seeing buildings emerge out of the natural landscape, complementing the backdrop of the ranges and sky, and featuring New Zealand native birds typical of the location. “It was so gratifying to be up there immersed in the landscape, listening to the birds and painting it all at the same time”.

Ms Oliver took four days to complete the two buildings with a lot of help from her partner Tim. Using six basic colours from Dulux “Colours of New Zealand’ range she completed it all with brush and sponge to blend the colours. Some of the challenges included painting lines onto corrugated iron, keeping on her feet with uneven ground around the buildings and all the variables associated with weather conditions typical of a changeable mountain environment such as wind, rain, sun, ice and fog.

Julie relaxing by the backcountry toilet.

Dulux supplied the paint at no cost

Dulux supplied the paint at no cost as part of a three year “Protecting Our Places” partnership with DOC that will see recreation and historic assets all around the country painted and, as in this case, upgraded for public’s enjoyment.

The loo finished.

The finished product

Photos shown courtesy of Julie Oliver.