Te Pouwhenua 

At the highest point in the Reserve stands Te Pouwhenua (a carved pillar or Pou) bearing the faces of Te Rauparaha and his nephew Te Rangihaeata

Man walking toward Te Pou at Tawatawa Reserve
Te Pouwhenua, Tawatawa Reserve, © Nathan Frost Photography

Te Rauparaha looks toward Kāpiti and Te Rangihaeata to Wairau (Nelson).

Carver Matahi Brightwell started work on the pou in 1979 and in 1981 members of the Mongrel Mob and Tapu Te Ranga Marae carved a path up the hill and erected it.

Kaumatua that supported the carving were Ralph Love, Kara Puketapu and Kohe Webster.

The pou was lovingly restored by Matatihi and his daughter Taupuru (Ariki) Whakataka Brightwell in March 2022.

The founder of Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Bruce Stewart, wrote:

“I thought it would be a good idea to honour … great Māori leader[s] who’d been put down by generations of colonisers, [especially] Te Rauparaha who led a successful migration to Wellington — their descendants are still here.

“We brought up [a] 3 ton kōhatu (rock) from Te Waipounamu [South Island] and Greg Brightwell, who was living at the marae, carved them.

“It was a huge task for our Tapu Te Ranga whānau to haul it up to the top of our maunga: Tawatawa. We could have pulled them up with our tractor — the boys wouldn’t hear of it — they were busting their guts but there was no thought of a tractor — it was about raising our tūpuna high — they wanted to do it with their own hands. …

“It was blowing hard when we pulled Te Pouwhenua up the final ramp — we set them in place —Te Rauparaha was looking out to Kāpiti and Te Rangihaeata was looking out to Tapu Te Ranga Motu. As soon as the Pou was in its place the wind dropped — it was so sudden it was spooky.”

Bruce’s words were sourced from the 2015 Tawatawa Restoration Plan.