A cultural garden designed for exercise and education - described as a traditional Maori version of a CrossFit gym with an educational twist - has opened on Kaeo's Waikare Rd.

Te Mara Hupara o Kaeo (Kaeo Hupara Garden) was opened last Wednesday by Far North mayor John Carter and local school children.

The property's owners, Alf and Maureen Paterson of Kaeo's branch of the Theosophical Society, made the section available after another site in the town fell through.

Mrs Paterson was the driving force behind the project.


Maori games expert Harko Brown said the garden comprised 10 different kinds of hupara (traditional apparatus, mainly stumps and poles) used for exercises, jumping, games and honing skills such as balance and agility. A tama taiki (children's basket) made from supplejack vines and suspended from a tree tests weaving and tree-climbing abilities.

Mr Brown said the Kaeo installation was the first mara hupara to be built since colonisation. About 60 volunteers supplied materials and painted the hupara in bright colours.

Mr Brown said hupara gardens were affordable and could be put to use in many areas of the school curriculum including maths, social studies, science and health.

Students from Whangaroa College in Kaeo and Te Kura o Hato Hohepa Te Kamura in Waitaruke took part in the opening ceremony.

The Kaeo installation is available for school and community use, and has already been booked for Matariki. It will serve as a template for larger hupara gardens planned in Kerikeri and Auckland.