Four months in, construction of the new Flaxmere skate plaza is well underway, with the facility set to have unique features, including artistic design elements representing the local area.
RICH Landscapes owner Richard Smith and his team has designed this skate plaza, adding to more than 100 skate and play facilities they have designed across the country and beyond.
He said that among its 20-plus elements, the Flaxmere design includes a unique flow bowl and a variety of street features creating unique lines through the environment.
“We are also working with Ngāti Kahungunu and Pasifika artists directly to bring in their design narrative and site features.”
This design element is being developed by artist collective Iwi Toi Kahungunu, led by Alex Heperi and Wilray Price, in response to input from a working group made up of Flaxmere students who were involved in the early planning process.
In a presentation to Council mid-last year the group, made up of representatives from all Flaxmere schools, asked that the skate plaza be a welcoming and comfortable space for whānau that strongly reflected the culture of Pā Harakeke.
The resulting design has been based on the whakapapa of the Ngaruroro River and how the multiple strands of the river all converged to a single strand around the site of the plaza.
The path of the Ngaruroro River was altered significantly as a result of a major flood in the late 1800s, which steered the river to its current path.
Historically a highway for trade, the artists have chosen materials that have an industrial aesthetic and design elements of waka and traditional Polynesian voyaging vessels and items.
Further design elements will reflect Pā Harakeke, the original name for Flaxmere; in the likes of the balustrade designs and the forms of the pou and waharoa.
The waharoa (entranceway) will be a contemporary design that reflects the area’s history and its modern day use, made from laser-cut corten steel panels.
A central three-metre high pou will also be made from corten steel, laser cut to create a lightbox effect in the centre of the skate area.
Natural plantings will play homage to the harakeke plants that grew in abundance along the riverbanks.
The input of the youth working group was not limited to cultural elements. They were involved in planning the ‘flow’ of the skate plaza, and asked to have shade, for it to be a place where parents would also enjoy spending time, to be smoke, drug and alcohol-free, have a kaitiaki (like the William Nelson Skate Park in Hastings), and be fenced.
The aim is to have the plaza completed and ready for use by the end of the year.
18 August 2022
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