Many of our reserves have an important past to Maori and non-Maori residents. The Whakatane District includes important early establishment sites for Polynesian explorers. These people, the greatest ocean navigators the world has known, found a place to settle here. Their descendants live here still. We remember them and all the peoples in between through stories attached to important places.
Drive out to the Whakatane Heads and opposite the boat ramp car park you will find a small cave named for Muriwai, an ancestor who is reputed to have dwelt there. Muriwai was a powerful and influential woman and her descendents tie Ngati Awa to a number of other iwi. The cave is sacred to her memory. Please do not eat or drink in the cave.
The Wairere Waterfall was one of three landmarks given to Toroa, captain and navigator of the Mataatua waka, by his father Irakewa. The falls are one of the most beautiful and historically significant sites in Whakatane. The falls are lit in the evening and are worth a visit day or night. Please do not bathe in this water or eat or drink near the falls.
This reserve lies adjacent to the trig station on the top of the hill between the Wairaka suburb of Whakatane and Otarawairere. Kaputerangi is thought to be one of the oldest settlement sites in New Zealand. The magnificent views from the reserve demonstrate its strategic importance. You can imagine occupants scanning the horizon, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a voyaging waka (canoe). The line of ancestors associated with this place is long and significant. Please respect this area.
Hillcrest Road Lookouts
Two small reserves are accessed from a car park off Hillcrest Road. Each has a short climb to lookout sites offering magnificent views.
Puketapu (sacred hill) has been a lookout site for the Ngati Awa tribe for over 600 years. In 1965 the Whakatane Rotary Club developed the site as a lookout and reserve, providing fine views of the town and river mouth.
Papaka Redoubt Historic Reserve
This former Maori pa site, later used as an Armed Constabulary Redoubt, serves as a lookout and is accessible from Hillcrest Road, opposite the car park at the junction of Seaview Road. The redoubt offers a different perspective of Whakatane and the Rangitaiki Plains.