Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Garden praised for 'cultural excellence'

Te Parapara in Hamilton is said to be the first serious attempt to recreate a pre-European Maori garden.
 Photo / Christine Cornege
Te Parapara in Hamilton is said to be the first serious attempt to recreate a pre-European Maori garden. Photo / Christine Cornege

A traditional Maori garden in Hamilton has won a commendation award for cultural excellence at the annual Parks Forum Awards in Australia.

Judges at the Australasian awards, held last month in Adelaide, noted the extensive work on Te Parapara garden capturing and recording the history of Maori in the region, and the commitment required to make the garden productive.

Hamilton City Council gardens manager Peter Sergel said Te Parapara was the first serious attempt to recreate a pre-European Maori garden.

"This award really recognises the achievement of the late Harry Puke, Wiremu Puke, the Te Parapara Garden Trust and all of their advisers," Mr Sergel said.

Hamilton's Te Parapara garden project began in 2003 and was formally opened in two stages, in December 2008 and in late 2010.

The garden covers 2500sq m in Hamilton Gardens and tells the story of the Tainui waka landing and the subsequent cultivation of crops by early Maori.

These crops included native species as well as plant and vegetable species they brought with them.

The awards celebrate the work of organisations, project teams, managers and individual staff in managing parks and communicating their value to communities.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said the award celebrated the success of a team who had created awareness of the city's history and heritage.

"Hamilton's Te Parapara garden is a beautiful example of this city celebrating its history, in an interactive and accessible way," she said.

"The work of those involved is reflected not only in winning this award, but also the legacy that is the iconic Hamilton Gardens."

Hamilton Gardens is owned by the council.

- NZ Herald

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