Mokotahi Hill track upgrade complete

Work to upgrade the track on the iconic Mokotahi Hill is now complete and the track is open for public use.   Mokotahi Hill was entrusted to the QEII National Trust to be protected for the benefit of the people of New Zealand.

“It’s fantastic to see a project like the Mokotahi Hill track upgrade come to completion. The old track was deteriorated, steep and unsafe, especially after wet weather,” says Mike Jebson, QEII CEO.

Jebson says “QEII National Trust wanted to improve access so more people could make it to the top of the hill to enjoy the fantastic views. The team of contractors from local business Siteworx Civil have done an excellent job in completing the track upgrade.”

The track has been widened with a small digger with over 250 steps added to the steeper areas. The track has been metalled from top to bottom with 90 tons of gravel being spread from a bucket under a helicopter.

Mokotahi Hill is a significant site to Ngati Kahungungu with a long and interesting history of occupation of the site. Various pits and terraces can be seen on the hill that show this.

“When the track was first cut 10 years ago, it went through some middens and through historic kumara pits. We worked intensively with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and archaeologist Kevin Jones to determine the best way of upgrading the track, while minimising damage to archaeological sites,” Says QEII regional representative for the Gisborne area, Malcolm Rutherford. says

Malcolm Rutherford says “the track was realigned to avoid the kumara pits and prevent further damage, however the decision was made to stick to the existing route through the middens”

“Material that was moved during the widening of the track was sieved and items of interest were recorded to help learn more about the history of the hill.  Among large numbers of pipi and cockle shells were various fish bones, some marine mammal bones, hangi stones, and some traditional stone cutting tools. The bones will be analysed by the Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR) – a Research Unit in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Otago. Some of the material will be carbon dated at the University of Waikato” says Rutherford.

“The QEII National Trust felt that upgrading the Mokotahi Hill track was a great investment to ensure its enjoyment for generations to come and will continue to work closely with Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council in the ongoing management and maintenance of the site” says Mike Jebson.

Photos credit: Malcolm Rutherford