Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ancient name for new Mosgiel pool

Construction of Dunedin City Council’s Mosgiel Pool is nearing completion and the modern new facility has been given a brand new name – carved from ancient waterways.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou has gifted the name Te Puna o Whakaehu, which acknowledges the original name of Silverstream. Te Puna translates to ‘the pool’, while Whakaehu is the Kāi Tahu name for the Silverstream that flows next to the building.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou Upoko Edward Ellison says, “We think Te Puna o Whakaehu is a perfect association for the building and its purpose, as well as the people who will be here enjoying themselves, exercising and recreating in the puna or pool, very much like how our people used to do with the Whakaehu.”

Dunedin Mayor, Jules Radich says the Dunedin City Council is honoured to have been gifted the new name and is delighted with how construction of the stunning new community facility is taking shape.

“Te Puna o Whakaehu is on track for a mid-2023 opening. I’m sure the local community is eagerly anticipating being able to swim in Mosgiel once again and I think they’ll be blown away when they see the quality of their new facility,” Mr Radich says.

“The new pool is a community-led project thanks to the vision and commitment of the Taieri Community Facilities Trust, which has done a magnificent job in its advocacy and fundraising.

“We’re also delighted to have been able to work with mana whenua to ensure that the significant stories unique to the area are acknowledged and celebrated in this project,” he says.

The five new pools inside Te Puna o Whakaehu are nearing completion – an 8-lane 25m pool, a leisure pool, a hydrotherapy pool, spa pool, and a learner’s pool. All pools will have ramp access.

The main glass facade is being installed over the next two weeks, completing the last of the main structural install. The main plant installation is also nearing completion, with the commissioning phase of the project starting in late February to test all plant and equipment in the facility are functioning correctly.

Work on the carpark and landscaping is also progressing well. Paths will be created linking the pool to Mosgiel Memorial Park, Mosgiel Memorial Gardens and Peter Johnstone Park.

According to mana whenua, the Whakaehu, or Silverstream, was carved out by a pet taniwha named Matamata. One night, Matamata awoke to find his master Rakitauneke, a Kāti Māmoe chief, was not there. Matamata swept over the land, twisting and turning in his quest to find his owner whilst carving out the bends and turns of the waterways of Whakaehu and Taiari (correct spelling of Taieri).
After failing to find Rakitauneke, Matamata moved north where he carved out the Otago Harbour. On his return, the morning sunlight caught him, and petrified his body above Ōtepoti Dunedin. The humps of the hill are named Pukemakamaka and Turimakamaka, today they can be known as Saddle Hill. Matamata remains kaitiaki of the Ōtepoti Dunedin rohe (area).

“Because of this narrative, it became very obvious that Whakaehu was the natural name for the new pool, because it connects to the land, the place, the wai (water) and the purpose of the pool,” Mr Ellison says.

Council worked with Aukaha, a rūnaka-owned consultancy firm to weave mana whenua narrative through the new design of the pool. Kāi Tahu artist Ephraim Russell has
incorporated visual depictions, says Aukaha’s lead design, Simon Kaan.

“As you approach the building you will be able to see the journey of Matamata. Inside, there will be a precast wall which are teeth of Matamata. Niho taniwha (taniwha teeth) is a symbolic pattern that speaks of a direct lineage of chieftainship and guardianship over land or water,” says Mr Kaan.

A video with more information on the narrative behind the name, the role of Aukaha, and the ideas behind the design is available at

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