The mara hupara playground is part of Te Auaunga, an Auckland Council Healthy Waters project through Walmsley and Underwood Reserves. This was a stream restoration project that delivered shared paths and bridges, an outdoor classroom, a community fale, and natural play spaces to the local community.
Boffa Miskell Landscape Architects worked closely with local schools, Harko Brown (Kaitamatariki Trust), Tina Dyer (Park Central), and Te Auaunga project team (Auckland Council, WEC, and Fulton Hogan), to design and construct ngā taonga tākaro (traditional Māori artefacts) and natural play elements from recycled and found natural materials. The result is a first-of-its-kind playspace that offers children a unique and imaginative experience, while also reinforcing the wider values of Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) project to restore the wairua of the Reserves.
Boffa Miskell were Design Lead in a team with AECOM NZ for planning, consent, and design. These roles continued through 18 months of construction supervision.
As part of a wider Te Auaunga stream restoration project, a unique opportunity has been realised through the creation of a playspace which responds to ngā taonga tākaro (traditional artefacts) and ngā aro tākaro (traditional play items) utilising play elements from natural and recycled materials.
Establishing a design brief and shared vision through engagement with community and mana whenua, through a high level of goodwill and trust, resulted in a strong desire for the mara hupara concept – natural play and playing in nature. The skill in bringing these ideas into reality through the design process is evident, not only through the physical outcomes, but also through the positive feedback received from those people that experience this place.
This project challenges the traditional model of playground design by looking at the landscape as an interactive canvas where subtle but conscious interventions have created an integrated and highly valued space, reflecting the wider aspirations of the Te Auaunga project, within tight budget constraints. This Award of Excellence acknowledges the innovation and bespoke nature of this project – significant attributes for landscape architecture in Aotearoa.
Client: Auckland Council
Company: Boffa Miskell
Boffa Miskell - Mark Lewis, Sarah Collins, Larissa Moyle, Aynsley Cisaria
Harko Brown - KaiMatariki Trust, Tina Dyer - Park Central, Tom Mansell - Auckland Council, Shaun Jones - Prev. AECOM, Amy Donovan - Auckland Council, Cameron Smythe - WEC