Unique design for for park entrance

The eastside community is calling for local artists to submit concept ideas and designs for a waharoa (entrance way) to be built at Puketawhero Park.

Leigh Richards-Ward, manager of the Mokoia Community Association, says they are looking for a unique piece.

"It's going to be right at the front [of the Eastside Youth Space], it's the part that will welcome those who come onto the site. It hopefully will reflect and fit within our kaupap -a space for young people that meets their specific social and physical needs."

The Mokoia Community Association supports the ER@P programme (Eastside Rangatahi At The Park) where young people from 10 to 20 come to Puketawhero Park on Monday and Thursday from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

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Free sporting activities and food are provided.

Leigh says the artists can be individuals or a group, and the position is paid.

"We'd ideally like those artists to be eastside-we know there are proven artists among our community to get onboard with this project-but we are open to submissions. Traditionally a waharoa would be at the entrance to a marae. With this being a youth space we're looking for something that's innovative as possible."

She says local youth at ER@P were consulted about the waharoa and asked what they thought should be incorporated in it.

"The young people said in their feedback particular words are to be used on the waharoa. Words like safe, fun, peace, whanau, health and respect."

Youth were given options of waharoa to look at, from traditional to mixed.

"We provided them with some that were completely different-they liked the one that was bright and inclusive for any young people that wanted to come along."

Leigh says an important part of the process for the successful submission is providing an opportunity for young people to participate in production of the artwork. She says there have been no submissions yet.

Once the deadline for submissions has passed a selection committee will choose a design. The selection committee will include representatives from the Eastside youth, Mokoia Community Association, hapu and the Rotorua Lakes Council.

"What we're doing is getting a call for submissions and then we'll be applying for funding from the Creative Communities Scheme from the Rotorua Lakes Council," says Leigh.

There are other components she says could be incorporated into the design, such as the pepeha of Ngati Te Roro o te Rangiare, the mana whenua of the Owhata area.

"It translates as 'You may tear away the bark from the skin of the tree but you will never tear its heart out-that is what makes it strong'."

Leigh says the themes of Atua Rongo such as vitality, health and strength will be looked at in the submissions.

Public arts advisor for Rotorua Lakes Council, Marc Spijkerbosch, says he is delighted this project is being driven by local youth, and that artistic enhancements for this space are so valued.

"Community participation is the key to ownership so I'm confident we'll have a fantastic
result."

The Eastside Youth Space is a phased development with additions including a ping pong table, a skate park and climbing and swinging equipment. Melanie Cameron, a landscape architect from the Rotorua Lakes Council, has been brilliant says Leigh.

"She's really good at listening to the whole purpose of what we're trying to achieve and then put the various components alongside each other in a way that reflects what's required."

Leigh says Rotorua East Lions have also offered to help with the toddler area and stage .

"It's all going beautifully. It's quite an extensive project and so we're well underway. There should be some major pieces done. It all depends on supplies relatively soon."

■ The deadline for submission is February 20, 2017. Call Leigh on (07) 345 5971. To submit entries email community@mokoia.org.nz or drop it in to the Mokoia Community Association at 297 Vaughan Road, Owhata.

Georgina Harris is the editor of the Rotorua Weekender.