Last week the council unveiled a taniko-inspired pattern that will be featured in stone in multiple locations throughout the arena, including paving, seating and through specialised lighting along the 8m wide timber bridge.

The design is integral in the culture and heritage overlay  which provides for a heritage timeline of the Arena.

Arena Masterplan Project Steering Group chairman mayor Grant Smith said it was an important process to intertwine these elements with the Palmerston North community.

He said it was important to weave the ciy's connection with Rangitāne and other iwi.


"This is a unique time and a unique space. There are a lot of new things in the way Rangitāne is working with council and the wider iwi."

Rangitāne tohunga  whakairo  Warren Warbrick has been advising the design experience team in cultural expression. 

He says the whakatauki or proverb, He aho tangata – the threads that bind us, was the key concept for cultural design elements in the arena project.

The proverb refers to the weaving technique for making kākahu, or cloaks.

Some cloaks of significance include a taniko border, comprised of triangular configurations, known as niho which have inspired large scale, abstract formations that complement the landscape architecture. 

Warren said the tradition of a rangatira or chief laying his cloak on the ground, physically or symbollically, in front of people in great need, placed them under the mana or protection.

This was in the name of peace until they were able to stand on their own two feet again.

"In a modern context, the whakatauki embraces all our communities as one, under the kaupapa of  rangimarie, or mantle of peace."

Mayor Smith said the design received overwhelming support from all the stakeholders on the committee representing the major users of the facility.

"It's exciting to see the partnership with Rangitāne demonstrated physically within the pattern and cloak elements which will also be used on other sites around the city in the coming years, to show that we are one community and everyone is welcome in Palmy. "


A number of city communities and user groups from its past, including the present Palmerston North Showgrounds, will be reflected in the design installations, including Rangitāne, speedway, rugby, netball, basketball, the Military Tattoo and Defence.

The first professional rugby game was played on these grounds.

The timeline will be displayed at eyeline so when visitors walk through the entrance plaza they can learn about the historical significance of the Arena illuminated through light.

There will also be the ability to experience voices from the past and present within a series of quotes from well-known personalities connected to the site and the region.

Over the next year, a new entrance plaza with a striking eight-metre wide entrance bridge made of natural timber will be established on the corner of Cuba/Waldegrave Sts, state of the art speedway pits installed, and the embankment re-developed.

Council general manager venues Sacha Haskell said the design is reflective of many significant stakeholder groups of the Arena, and the meaning will resonate with a broad variety of residents and visitors to the venue when completed.


"There are a number of experiential feelings we want people to have when they walk through the gates of the new Arena.

She continued that the work also shows that council is getting smarter with design and storytelling.

"Design elements can often be added as an afterthought to construction, or added without a clear purpose in mind, but we wanted to make sure design thinking occurred in the construction process itself.

"Having this work completed in tandem with product selection and construction meant we'd pay homage to the heritage and culture of the site and also minimise costs."