For those of you who don't know, a pa is traditionally a Maori fortified hillfort. And for those of you who also don't know, Maori are the native people of New Zealand, who were here long before the British came and colonised Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand, translated into English as "Land of the Long White Cloud").
Otatara Pa is located here in Napier, it's the largest pa you can visit in New Zealand, and it's one of the country's most important archaeological sites. Settlement has been dated back to 1500. Original terraces can still be seen, and interpretive palisades have been erected in the restoration of the area as an historic reserve. Most striking are the pouwhenua - "carved posts placed strategically on the land to acknowledge and represent the relationship between Tāngata Whenua (the people of the land), their ancestors and their environment or tūrangawaewae (place of standing)."
A few days ago we had an unusually warm winter day, so I decided to visit Otatara Pa for the first time.
There's a one hour loop track past the pouwhenua, palisades, food pits and terraces. It was a wonderful walk with fantastic views out over Hawke's Bay. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the earliest creators of handmade here on these shores.
For more information about Otatara Pa, check out Napier City Council's site, or New Zealand's Department of Conservation site.