Known to Tangata Whenua as an inland route between Rotorua and the coastal settlements around modern day Tauranga, it was not until the late 1800's that European settlement started with the clearing of small areas of bush for farming.
Prior to European settlement of the area, the northern Mamaku Plateau was almost entirely tall forest - mostly rimu and tawa, but with pockets of beech forest around Mangorewa.
Farming attempts then cleared most of the native forests in the Park area. Large scale logging of native timber did not start until 1925, with parts still being converted to pine plantations as late as the 1980's.
Tangata Whenua is actively consulted to ensure that local history and special features are taken into consideration. This has provided the opportunity to research archaeological records for the Taumata and Ngawaro region, as well as the interpretation of the Park's history from both written and oral accounts.
Ngaitamarawaho (Ngāti Ranginui) kaumātua Des Tata, says the spiritual aspect of the names is very important to Tangata Whenua, with many stories of significance behind them.
Des says "some of the ancient names go back 18 generations". For example, Te Ara o Raho means the trail that the warrior Raho took when he was chased through the area. Raho used the terrain to his advantage and alluded his pursuers by taking a zig-zag route (pikopiko means winding or zig-zag), hence Mangakopikopiko.
Te Ara o Raho, Mangakopikopiko, Ngawaro, Waimihia and Te Rerenga have been chosen, to name the important roads and walking tracks at the Park. The names carry with them the Māori history of the Park and denote events or sites of significance to local Māori.
|The named roads are:|
|Waimihia Way||The roadway between the Arrival Centre and the camp ground|
|Weld Road||Road to the underpass named after previous Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Graeme Weld|
|Te Rerenga Track||The 2km loop track to the historic tunnel|
|Te Ara o Raho (Road)||Previously known as Darrin Road|
|Mangakopikopiko Road||Previously known as Munro Road|
A Cultural and Heritage Assessment was undertaken in 2009. Key findings identified the significant cultural resources within the Park, so that they can be recognised and provided for in the development of future park programmes and activities. This research will ensure the Park's natural, cultural and heritage resources are preserved and protected for the enjoyment of future generations and to enhance the Mauri, or life force, of the Park.
The diagram above indicated the conservation and sustainability principles that Tangata Whenua have recommended.
Park staff are involved in on-going consultation with Tangata Whenua representatives from Ngaitamarawaho and Ngāti Ruahine, two of the hapū with cultural interests within the Park boundaries. This will help to inform and progress sustainable practices and cultural resource recommendations and how they should be incorporated into the Park.