For more than a decade, students of Te Wharekura o Ngā Purapura o Te Aroha, would turn up at a warehouse out the back of the Te Wananga o Aotearoa Te Awamutu campus for their school day. But, in 2020, that all changed when the purpose-built wharekura, complete with classrooms, a music room, gymnasium and a recording studio opened for its Year 1-13 students.
Stage two of the Maori-medium school saw the addition of a hard tech hub, digital innovation hub and a playground, which Playground Creations had the privilege of bringing to life.
Initial discussions with kura Tumuaki, Jade Tapine, enabled our team to understand the importance of enriching the mind, spirit and heart through Maori medium education, creating space where tamariki could flourish.
Tapine also provided insight to the strong connection of the Pou (the school’s pillars), the colours of which we were able to incorporate into the playground’s design. The location of the kura, in the heart of the Waikato, also meant connection with the local awa (river) was strong, which our team ensured came through in the final design.
At either end of the playground, two platforms add height and access to the playing area. These have been completed with wharenui style roofs, that not only fit the culture of the school, but provide additional shade for tamariki.
A bridge, reflective of those spanning the Waipa and Waikato Rivers, connects each platform. As the main focal point of the playground, the bridge has a poutama pattern on its side, which has significant spiritual and educational meaning.
Natural rocks from New Zealand rivers create natural play activities, a waka rocker encourages balance and mobility, while a thick jungle rope, which can be moved and balanced on, represents the tuna in local awa (river).
A wharenui was also included, creating a haven where tamariki can pause from their busy day, and korero with a friend.