From www.stuff.co.nz: Kiwis and tourists can now see and hear the story of the Waikato Wars as they tread the ground where Maori and Pakeha fought and died in the 1860s.
The digital resource titled The Waikato War Driving Tour was officially launched this week and is a first for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
More tours are planned for other regions but all eyes were on the Waikato version on Thursday as a 50-seater bus full of key stakeholders took a test run from Auckland to Te Awamutu.
The collaborative project with Nga Muka includes a smartphone and iPad Driving Tour App, brochure, a website hosted by Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and an education resource for secondary schools.
The bloodiest stop of 13 on the drive was Rangiriri Pa, just off State Highway 1 north of Huntly.
There are four new listening posts located around the historical site and each is equipped with interpretation signs and historically accurate artwork.
The accompanying audio can be accessed on smartphones, iPads or downloaded from the website.
Each story is written in a way that places the listener in the heart of the battle.
At listening post two, for example, actor Calvin Tuteao’s voice tells you: “As the troops advanced towards where you now stand, they suffered heavy fire from defenders – many were mortally wounded.”
The project’s cost, including a memorial to all those who fell in the battle of Rangiriri, was $280,000.
Ngati Naho kaumatua Major Te Wheoro, who was on Thursday’s tour, said it was an important development.
“It’s good for the schools, and both Maori and Pakeha children to know this because it changed the course of history.”
NZHPT project manager Amy Hobbs said the resource was designed to “encourage visitors to further understand the impacts and results of the war on the landscape and communities of the time – impacts which are still felt today in New Zealand communities. Over one million acres (400,000ha) of land was confiscated after this war, creating dislocation of the Waikato people.”
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism CEO Kiri Goulter said the tour has “huge potential”, especially from a cultural tourism perspective.
“The visitors coming to our region want to know about these things but there’s not many ways they can actually learn and engage with it,” she said.
“You go to Waikato Museum, which is wonderful, but this is a product that is all about storytelling and bringing landscapes to life.
“We’re great with Hobbits but our key fundamental strength is this story, and now it’s being told.”
The driving tour, map and education package about the Waikato Wars can be found on the internet at www.hamiltonwaikato.com/the-waikato-war