Rangatahi from Kerikeri High School are helping to shape community spaces in their rohe, by co-designing a new māra hūpara to be built at the Kerikeri Sports Complex.

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Six students were selected to be part of the project working group, helping to inform the design and development of the play space by exploring storytelling components that bring a deeper meaning to activities and tākaro Māori.

The project working group is part of a wider collective which includes representatives from Ngāti Rehia, the Kerikeri Sports Complex, Far North District Council, Vision Consulting and Healthy Families Far North.

One student said it’s been an awesome way to be part of something in Kerikeri.  

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“It’s been a really cool experience and makes me feel like our opinions matter.”

“People are surprised to hear how involved we are… It makes me feel proud of what we are doing, knowing that it will be enjoyed by so many people for such a long time.”

The māra hūpara will act as both a playground and a whare wānanga; a natural play space designed to share kōrero tuku iho of Ngāti Rēhia (our local stories).

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The students have been running a series of workshops to help gather feedback from the wider community about what a space that tells our stories of place might look like. They’ve also held sessions with the local kindergarten to re-tell these stories in their own unique way, and to test the best ways to engage with other young people.

This feedback has been used to help inform the first concept design produced by leading New Zealand environmental planning and design consultancy, Boffa Miskell.

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“I have loved gathering feedback from teachers, other high-schoolers and especially the kindergarten. I found it really interesting to see the different opinions and wants for the play space,” said one student. 

“I'm happy that I can help pass down the knowledge of my iwi (Ngāti Rēhia) by sharing kōrero tuku iho with others,” said another. 

Healthy Families Far North Systems Innovator, Tawhi Tua, said it’s been exciting to see how committed students are to ensuring the māra hūpara represents the whole community.

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“What we’ve heard from the community is that they want to have a space of play, connection, and movement and we are trying new ways of designing this space by bringing our community with us.”

“These rangatahi have played a crucial role in elevating the voices of their communities, and they have shown real pride and commitment to building a place that is representative of everyone.”

One student hoped there were more opportunities for rangatahi and other locals to be involved in future spaces that might be developed in their community.

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“I think all public spaces should be designed by our community, that way we get a say in what we actually want and we can all be proud of our contribution.”

Rangatira mō āpōpō? Rangatira i tēnei rā! Leaders of tomorrow? Leaders for today!