History taking shape in Pirongia
By Grant Johnston
Interpretation of the Alexandra East Redoubt site in Pirongia has taken a more tangible form with the installation of a cobblestone outline of the fortifications.
Sabina Owen, convenor of the Waipa Heritage Council working party advancing interpretation of the site, says a Trust Waikato grant funded the work.
Other work to be carried out includes erection of a fence across the front of the historic reserve and installation of three large signs.
Local contractor Sonia Frimmel has designed the signs titled ‘Alexandra East Redoubt’ (outlining its history and nearby features), ‘Path of War’ (detailing the history of significant Maori battles from the Queen’s Redoubt at Ngaruawahia to Orakau) and ‘The Waipa River Highway’ (explaining the role river transport played in the 1800s).
The redoubt looks across the Waipa River to Mount Pirongia.
The cobblestone outline gives an appreciation of just how large the Alexandra East Redoubt was. They illustrate the shape of the fortification, while allowing easy maintenance.
Other features within the redoubt site will be similarly marked and described with brass plaques.
Andrew McFarlane, Council staff liaison member on the Waipa Heritage Council, says the redoubt project is an excellent example of the Heritage Council in action. Mr McFarlane says conflict over aspirations for the redoubt site was the catalyst for the formation of the Waipa Heritage Council. “It has been a great team effort to firstly get the Heritage Council up and running and now to undertake this project,” he says.
Mr McFarlane was heavily involved with developing the Draft Waipa Heritage Strategy, which was adopted in December. “The Alexandra East Redoubt project is one of a number of heritage projects in the district,” he says. “There should be some exciting heritage developments in Waipa coming up.”
Interpretation of the Alexandra East Redoubt site should encourage visitors to Pirongia Historic Visitor Centre in Pirongia’s main street to make the short walk across Aubin Close to view the redoubt.