Cultural designs integrated in new lakefront elements
Adding to the cultural foundation of the Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment, the new half basketball court and ngā puna wai (drinking fountains) share cultural significance.
A unique cultural design will feature on the half basketball court currently under construction as part of the new lakefront playground, and six different cultural designs adorn the drinking fountain stations for visitors to enjoy.
The half basketball court design is inspired by a Te Arawa centric pattern known as puhoro. In particular, its origins are said to stem from Ngāti Whakaue. The attributes of strength, agility and speed are symbolic in the design and are commonly seen incorporated in moko a tinana (body tattoo) thigh patterns and on the underside bows of waka.
Due to the complex nature of the cultural patterning, the basketball court paintwork will not be completed until early 2022. However, in the interim, temporary line marking will be in place and the court will be opened to the public in December along with the rest of the new playground.
Ngā puna wai (drinking fountains)
Each of the six bespoke wrap-around murals on the ngā puna wai represent an attribute or element of the land and the patterns are specific to the lakefront project. The pattern styles reflect themes such as the hammer head shark motif, subtle curves of plants, mixing swirls of water, and growth.
The fountains will be spread across 11 different locations at the lakefront. A map is included below.
Meaning behind the six designs:
- Mangopare - (A traditional kowhaiwhai pattern) used widely throughout Māoridom and reflects attributes of determination, resistance and resilience.
- Wai Ngongo Tahā - Simply means to drink (from the calabash) but also pays reverence to our maunga.
- Tipu - Reflective of growth and the wellspring of life.
- Wai Ranu - Mixing bodies of water have inspired this pattern.
- Ngongo Tahā (a variant of the second pattern) – Honours our maunga and rich history as the name means to literally ‘drink from the calabash.’
- Koiri - Means ‘to bend’, and echoes the meandering fresh water streams well known to our area.
The cultural foundation elements of the basketball court and ngā puna wai were created by local artist Lyonel Grant. Lyonel has also designed further artworks to be installed at the lakefront this summer.
Lyonel is a New Zealand Māori master carver and sculptor. Born in Rotorua, he affiliates to Te Arawa and Ngāti Pikiao and has created the designs specifically for the lakefront redevelopment.
Mr Grant says the taste of the art works used in the project fully echo the cultural foundation of the lakefront site and its wider environment.
“It's heartening to think that the works produced have been inspired by a sense of place and history, and will convey our unique stories to local, national, and international audiences. It’s ironic that a pandemic that stifled my international projects has allowed me to reconnect back here at home in what I believe is a meaningful way,” Mr Grant says.
The Rotorua Lakefront Redevelopment received $1million from central government’s regional economic development and investment unit, Kānoa – REDIU, to progress work on a cultural foundation for the project. These design elements have been made possible through this investment. The investment has also resulted in employment for local artists who are currently creating carved pou and information panels that will tell the pakiwaitara (stories) of mana whenua at the lakefront. These elements will express the cultural narrative and improve the connection between Rotorua Lakefront, Rotorua Museum and Whakarewarewa Forest for locals and manuhiri alike.