Council & City

Turitea Pā

One of the city’s most culturally significant sites is getting a new lease of life.

Photo shows artist's illustration of the new lookout being built on He Ara Kotahi, overlooking the river. The design takes its cue from traditional Māori fortifications, with a crenellated fence around the structure.

We're building a two-storey cantilevered lookout platform for Turitea Pā, which is based along He Ara Kotahi at the Manawatū Awa (river).

Turitea Pā formed part of a wider settlement known as “Te Kuripaka”, which included Te Motu o Poutoa to the east, and Marae-Tarata to the west. A tall viewing platform once stood on the same site when it was a Rangitāne o Manawatū pā. The lookout gave Rangitāne people an unobstructed view of who was coming up or down the river, with 360 degree views. Te Kuripaka dates to the 15th century, and the use of Turitea Pā as a lookout dates back as recently as the 1850s. Unfortunately, there are no remnants of the old platform that remain today.

Turitea means bright clear water. It is pronounced Tu – ri – te – a (Tu – rhymes with blue, Ri – rhymes with key, Te – said like tear, A – like you’re saying the ‘ar’ or the ‘a’ in car).

Construction is the culmination of a long design process

For the past two years Council and Rangitāne have been working on the designs for the new lookout. We wanted to ensure the lookout continued to give great views, was respectful to the history of the pā site and – due to being on a cliff face – was also safe.

People visiting the lookout will be welcomed to the site with six carved pou. The handrails will be lit at night by solar energy. The lookout is fully accessible on the lower platform. The upper platform needs to be accessed by a metal staircase. The lookout is encased with strengthened glass and macrocarpa.

Parks and Reserves Manager, Kathy Dever-Tod says it is an amazing project to be part of.

“Our Manawatū River Framework is centered on there being more things to see and do at the river each year – and this project is helping bring that vision to life. Getting more people into our river space will ensure we have more people looking after our awa and helping restore its mauri alongside Rangitāne. Getting to work on a culturally significant site like Turitea Pā is a privilege for us, and we cannot wait to see the public reaction when this exciting project is complete.

Chris Whaiapu from Rangitāne says historically, Te Pūhara o Turitea (the sentry watchtower of Turitea) was between 9 and 15 metres tall and formed part of a network of other pūhara (watchtowers) strategically placed along the Manawatū River and at various inland locations.

“The purpose of the Turitea pūhara was to provide early warning to the tribe, to prevent the passage of unauthorised people along the river. Rangitāne chose this site because of its natural geographical features and its offensive and defensive abilities. Its last use was in the late1700s/early 1800s, during the time of the ‘Amio-whenua’, and became one of a number of host points for other friendly tribes seeking shelter and refuge.

“I like the new contemporary design of the platform, which reflects a traditional pūhara in a modern context, and I look forward to our community learning more about this site and its history in the years to come.”

Construction will have little impact on the pathway users

Most of the platform has been engineered off-site and will be installed on-site over the coming months.

Turitea Pā is about 2km up the pathway from the main He Ara Kotahi bridge. It is just a few hundred metres on from our Urban Eels platform, and has been commonly dubbed ‘the lookout’ since the pathway opened two years ago.

Construction starts with building a temporary pathway next to the construction site, so people can continue to use He Ara Kotahi throughout the construction period. There will be short periods of time when we may need to block this access to move material on to the site, but we expect these to be very brief. Massey University is helping provide access for our construction vehicles.


Construction started in late November 2021. We are hoping to have the lookout completed early 2022.