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Waiaroha Heretaunga Water Discovery Centre

Wayfinder Landscape Planning and Strategy Ltd

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  • NZILA Award of Excellence Institutional and Commercial — 2024

In 2016, the drinking water in Havelock North became contaminated with Campylobacter. It is likely that the contamination event contributed to the death of several of our loved ones, and a large number of our whānau became ill. Together we lost trust in our water infrastructure, and many questioned how we could improve our systems to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of everyone. Waiaroha is a response to our community’s request to love and respect our drinking water. It represents an alternative way of thinking about community infrastructure. Rather than hiding the water treatment plant in a concrete box, we celebrate it. We installed a picture window on the facility, and developed the surrounding site into an immersive, cultural and educational resource. Waiaroha represents the physical and spiritual journey of water through Heretaunga. It is designed to capture the imagination, and enable new ways of thinking about how we manage this precious resource. Its interactive, engaging and designed to spark curiosity. What could have been functional, engineered infrastructure screened by a hedge has been turned into a prized asset for Hastings. It is embraced by mana whenua as an urban marae, and since opening it has been visited by over 50 school groups. It’s listed on social media as one of the top ten visitor attractions in Hawke’s Bay.

Wayfinder Landscape Planning + Strategy in collaboration with Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga and Hastings District Council have created a wonderful exemplar of Institutional and Commercial Landscape Architecture and design for the people of Heretaunga Hastings. The team have turned what could have been a functional water-treatment plant into a local community destination that welcomes, teaches, tells stories, and celebrates the importance of water in our everyday lives. Using the concept of ki uta, ki tai (expressing the water journey from the mountains to the sea) visitors experience interactive landscapes that help them to understand their relationship to water.

The design influences and partnership with Ngāti Kahungunu is tangible, and the shared iwi and design vision of Hira Huata working with Wayfinder has resulted in a place that shows the care taken and represents mana whenua and their expression and aspirations for place.

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Hastings District Council, Wayfinder Landscape Planning & Strategy Ltd, Designgroup Stapleton Elliott

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