This memorial waka, also known as a waka maumahara, was one of the many memorials at this site to Te Pura Manihera McGregor (Ngā Poutama, Ngāti Ruaka, Ngāti Rangi). Born along the Whanganui River at Karatia in 1855, Pura McGregor was a prominent figure in Whanganui and famously accompanied her uncle, Te Rangihiwini Kepa (Major Kemp) in battle, to lead dances and haka during the New Zealand Wars. Pura McGregor was also the first Māori woman to be awarded an Order of the British Empire for her exemplary efforts in fundraising for soldiers in The Great War. Her connection to Rotokawau, Virginia Lake, began with her involvement in the Wanganui Beautifying Society which was integral to the development of the area.
The Virginia Lake Trust commissioned local designer and visual artist, Cecelia Kumeroa to recreate the original tōtara waka maumahara at the North West end of Virginia Lake, where the old Toronui pā once was. Using 3D modelling and animation, Kumeroa designed a Corten steel sculpture with the original kowhaiwhai, or rafter, patterns which were laser-cut into the 7.5 metre sculpture. The design both honours Pura McGregor’s legacy and ensures it continues for generations to come.