7 September 2018 Kate Palmer

Whangarei locals know that for spectacular and panoramic views over the city and harbour, the summit of Mount Parihaka is unrivalled. It’s not much of a secret either, as a visit to the summit is highly recommended to visitors on local and international tourist websites. Towering 242 metres above the city, Mount Parihaka is one of the most significant mountains (maunga) for Māori in Northland.

However, the lookout at the summit didn’t capture the cultural and historical importance of the site. In 2015 work began to replace the existing lookout with a structure that properly reflected the mana of the site, one that combined Whangarei’s relationship with its maunga and enabled visitors to enjoy the stunning views.

WSP Opus was heavily involved in the project, working alongside Whangarei District Council. WSP Opus provided professional project management, engineering, procurement and construction supervision services to enable a new - and larger - hexagonal viewing platform to be successfully consented and constructed in a remote and challenging site. This included a ramp with palisade-like edges and a design that mimics the parapets of the Pā that once stood there, with stainless steel panels that describe its history, and a panorama that identifies the locations it overlooks.

Central to the lookout structure is a specially sculpted kōhatu (rock), an exquisitely carved piece that anchors the lookout platform and lends a sense of ceremonial occasion to the site. The slow incline of the walkway accentuates the power of the borrowed landscape, while the visitor is transported to a primordial time by awe-inspiring views. The kōhatu was carved from a stone specially selected from Lake Waro, just north of Whangarei and had to be helicoptered into position.

As a result of WSP Opus’ expertise and community focus, a lookout has been provided that does justice to this historic place overlooking the city.

The project was acknowledged with a New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence in 2017.

Chris Frost - Civil Engineering Technican, WSP Opus “As a proud born and bred Northlander, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the Whangarei District Council on this iconic project. WSP Opus creates what matters for future generations and this structure that blends history and nature is something that will be enjoyed for many, many years to come.”