Planned Queenstown community gifted the name ‘Te Pā Tāhuna’

Posted on 06 December 2019

Ngāi Tahu Property’s new residential development in Tāhuna-Queenstown has been officially gifted the name ‘Te Pā Tāhuna’ by Whakatipu mana whenua during a whakanoa-site blessing this morning.

Paulette Tamati-Elliffe, member of the mana whenua working party, says the pā reflects the notion of a safe and permanent home, where the ahi kā (home fires) burn for past, current and future generations.

“The name Te Pā Tāhuna is important because it first and foremost impresses on us that this beautiful part of Aotearoa is a place to call home.”

Building a community in Tāhuna – the area around modern Queenstown – has precedent: Kāti Mamoe chief Tūwiriroa – the father of Hākitekura, the first woman to swim across the cold waters of Whakatipu Waimāori – chose Tāhuna for his pā, Tamati-Elliffe says.

The area had long been prized for its abundance of favourite foods such as weka and tuna (eels) and luxuries including the prized fragrant taramea plant.

“Tūwiriroa was one of many who valued Whakatipu as an area that recharges the mind and spirit.

“Through the centuries Tāhuna and the surrounding Whakatipu area sustained and revitalised our people. It was a favoured place for Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe and Ngāi Tahu hapū travelling to collect pounamu to rest and gather resources on their way back to coastal kāika.

“We know Tāhuna was a permanent home for Tūwiriroa and his whānau.”

Tamati-Elliffe also highlights the close working relationship between mana whenua and Ngāi Tahu Property, which ensures opportunities to revitalise the traditional footprint of Ngāi Tahu in Whakatipu are maximised.

“Working alongside Ngāi Tahu Property has been great. We are all working to ensure that authentic representations of Māori culture are woven into the fabric of the development,” she says.

“Opportunities such as providing the name for this project remind us, mana whenua, of our traditions and history in the whenua. It also allows us to share them with the wider community.”

Te Pā Tāhuna whakanoa-site blessing: Ngāi Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy talks about the importance of working with mana whenua in developments. Michael Skerritt (Upoko, Waihōpai Rūnaka) and Edward Ellison (Upoko, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou) discuss the purpose of whakanoa when undertaking new developments.


Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says Te Pā Tāhuna is a values-driven collaboration between mana whenua and Ngāi Tahu Property.

“It is a privilege for us as an iwi to realise this investment in people and this integral part of Te Waipounamu. Together we’re continuing the legacy of our tūpuna by building a community founded on values of providing a place for families to come together to rest, relax and be safe.”

Ngāi Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy says working with mana whenua has developed a shared vision that is influencing the shape of the ongoing project.

That will be seen in the cultural artworks around the community, sustainable green spaces and, also in Ngāi Tahu Property’s commitment to ensuring Te Pā Tāhuna provides the warm, comfortable homes Queenstowners want.

“We are very grateful to the mana whenua of this unique part of Te Waipounamu for gifting the name Te Pā Tāhuna. It carries the stories of the generations who have valued this area for centuries and reflects the aspirations of the people who live and work in this amazing place today.

“We look forward to delivering homes that live up to the promise embodied in this name. We will continue to work with mana whenua to maximise the potential of Te Pā Tāhuna - delivering up to 400 new homes in Queenstown – 100 of which will be KiwiBuild apartments for first home buyers and second chancers.”

For more information go to TePāTāhuna.co.nz