Back in 2008, I took this aerial photograph of the then fledgling North Canterbury town of Pegasus, 25 kilometres north of Christchurch. Viewed from the air it was then little more than an excavation site and I think the first residents have only just moved into their new house. I drove out to Pegasus just recently and three years on, I was stunned by progress.
Houses have sprung up in their hundreds, the golf course is finished and operational, it’s all been beautifully landscaped with lakes, pathways and flourishing trees; and there’s even a town centre with cafes and a general store.
Back in the early stages of development, great care was taken to protect Maori artefacts discovered during the excavation of the land. Because of the town’s proximity to the old Kaiapoi Maori pa, the original home of the Nga Tuahuriri hapu, the town’s developers, Infinity Investment Group agreed to work with a team of archaeologists and tribal representatives to ensure that any artefacts unearthed were treated appropriately.
A significant number of Maori artefacts were unearthed, including greenstone adzes, the remnants of a waka (canoe) and an ancient pou (carved post), which is believed to have been part of the old pa’s palisade defences, which were breached by fire in the 1830s. The plan is to house these and other significant cultural items in a whare taonga to be built at Pegasus.
The rich historical significance of the Pegasus site has also been acknowledged in the placement of six carved pou whenua, which make a bold statement at the entrance to the town. Carved by Fayne Robinson, Riki Manuel and Caine Tauwhare, who collectively have more than 75 years carving experience, the pou took eight months to complete. They’ve been carved from wind-felled totara logs from Okiwi Valley just north of Kaikoura and gifted by Te Runanga o Kaikoura on behalf of the people of Ngati Kuri. They represent the cultural heritage of North Canterbury and many of the environmental values on which the town is built. They were blessed at a dawn ceremony in 2008. www.pegasustown.com