Traditional Māori garden opens to public
09 Dec 2010
The final stage of Te Parapara - New Zealand’s first and only traditional Māori garden in a public setting which will be unveiled at Hamilton Gardens tomorrow (10.12.2010) - offers rare insight into the region’s pre-European history.
Sir Tumu Te Heuheu, paramount chief of the local Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe, and Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker will open the new garden which also houses a number of precious Māori carvings that were previously inaccessible to the public.
The delicate works have been created with painstaking detail to remain in-keeping with age-old traditions, and complement the garden which reproduces cultivation in the area hundreds of years ago.
The first stage of the garden, which was officially opened in 2008, was a traditional plantation featuring plants either used as resources or having cultural significance for Māori.
Set on the banks of the Waikato River in the heart of Hamilton’s popular public gardens, the traditional Māori garden is designed to show visitors how food was once produced and stored.
It displays the plants, techniques and culture associated with pre-European Māori horticulture, food gathering, preservation and storage.
Te Parapara sits alongside the ‘Sustainable Backyard’, the ‘Kitchen Garden’ and the ‘Herb Garden’ in the Productive Garden Collection of Hamilton Gardens.
The newly-revealed, delicately carved structures include a rare taepa / palisade fence, three forms of traditional pataka / storehouse, a waharoa / ceremonial gateway, and ancestral pou / pole.
Work on Te Parapara has spanned almost five years and has been a collaborative project between Nga Mana Toopu o Kirikiriroa, the Te Parapara Garden Trust and Hamilton City Council.
Te Parapara story
The garden tells the story of the establishment of cultivated food crops in the Waikato, from the landing of the original Tainui waka / tribal canoe to the era of the expansive plantations in which local Māori excelled as productive gardeners.
Iwi advisor Wiremu Puke says the garden is unique.
"There is no other garden like this that preserves the traditions and material cultural knowledge with this level of integrity. It’s also an acknowledgement of the ancestors who cultivated these riverside terraces over many centuries up until the 1863 Waikato Land Wars," Puke said.
Plant displays are set within a design that refers to traditional built structures as well as to the cultural aspects of gardening.
It shows how the first Polynesian arrivals to Aotearoa used the plants they found growing wild, and demonstrates the techniques they developed for growing tropical crops in a sub-tropical climate.
The garden also shows the cultural context that integrated and regulated the agronomic life of pre-European Waikato / Ngati Wairere society.
Te Parapara is divided into two realms - Te Ara Whakatauki / path of proverbs, which lies between the Piazza and the waharoa / gateway, is the realm of uncultivated food from the forest and grassland. The ruler of this realm is Haumia- tiketike - god of wild food plants.
Te Taupa / the garden beyond the waharoa is the realm of cultivated food, ruled by Rongomatane - god of the kumara and all cultivated food plants.
Background: Te Parapara
Te Parapara was originally the name of the pre-European Māori settlement in the area now occupied by Hamilton Gardens.
Before Europeans arrived, the riverbanks of the central Waikato were lined with Māori gardens, so the Waikato / Tainui horticultural heritage in this area is of national significance.
The Te Parapara /Hamilton Gardens site was at one time home to Haanui, a famous Ngati Wairere chief, and was particularly renowned as a site of sacred rituals associated with harvesting of food crops.
There was a tuahu / sacred altar or shrine called Te Ikamauroa associated with the rituals in this locality.
Kai - Māori food
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|Pataka / food storehouse in the Te Parapara Māori Garden