Four months later, construction of Flaxmere’s new skate plaza is well underway, with the facility set to feature unique features including art design elements representing the area.
RICH Landscapes owner Richard Smith and his team designed this skating plaza, adding to the more than 100 skating and play facilities they have designed across the country and beyond.
He said among its more than 20 elements, the Flaxmere design includes a unique flow bowl and a variety of street features creating unique lines through the environment.
“We also work directly with artists Ngāti Kahungunu and Pasifika to bring their design narrative and functionality to the site.”
This design element is being developed by the artist collective Iwi Toi Kahungunu, led by Alex Heperi and Wilray Price, in response to feedback from a working group of Flaxmere students who participated early in the planning process.
In a presentation to Council mid last year, the group, made up of representatives from all schools in Flaxmere, called for the skate plaza to be a welcoming and comfortable space for whānau that strongly reflects the culture of Pā Harakeke .
The resulting design was based on the whakapapa of the Ngaruroro River and how the multiple strands of the river all converged into a single strand around the plaza site.
The course of the Ngaruroro River was significantly altered following a major flood in the late 1800s, which directed the river to its current course.
Historically a highway for trade, the artists chose materials that have an industrial aesthetic and design elements of waka and traditional Polynesian ships and travel objects.
Other design elements will reflect Pā Harakeke, Flaxmere’s original name; in the likes of balustrade designs and shapes of louse and waharoa.
The waharoa (entrance) will be a contemporary design that reflects the history of the area and its modern use, made from laser cut corten steel panels.
A three-meter-high central pou will also be made of corten steel, laser cut to create a lightbox effect in the center of the skate area.
Natural plantings will pay homage to the harakeke plants that grew in abundance along the banks.
The contribution of the youth working group was not limited to cultural elements. They were involved in planning the “flow” of the skate plaza and asked for shade, so that it would be a place where parents would also like to hang out, 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 square completed and ready for use by the end of the year.
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