In Upper Hutt City of the Greater Wellington Region, Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro has been a landmark since 2001. After almost two decades of use, the park became outdated and was struggling to meet the evolving needs of the community.
In 2018 RICH Landscapes came onboard alongside Playground People to design the new Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro playground and skatepark; a monumental task that had us focus on designing a space that was innovative, inclusive and accessible.
The park itself was named after the birthplace of the original owners mother, Maidstone in England. This is the home of the famous Leeds castle which inspired the initial design idea to centre the park around its existing mound, placing a castle on top of it. The mound and castle as a central point of the park inspires children to ascend the hill and reach new heights, which allowed our team led by Playground People to continue with a fantasy theme throughout the rest of the park - touching on fantasy tropes through various features and creating something that would capture the minds of young people to think creatively and use their imagination when playing, encouraging them to create their own stories while using the facility.
The park has its own flavour and we wanted to retain its personality while adding new and accessible features for invigorated play potential. From the central point of the park, the surrounding areas are fluid and accessible, as each area is integrated and connected which maximises the potential of time-spent within the facility, incorporating areas for all types of play while providing comfortable spaces for families and visitors to enjoy their day out.
Upper Hutt’s growing community prides itself on being an inclusive family-friendly centre where all people can feel at home. This is reflected in the design and build of the restored Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro facility.
With strong community support and input on the playground received by the Upper Hutt City Council, we engaged with the skateboarding community to gather their input on the skatepark facility as a major destination for skateboarding nationally.
Located next to Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro is the Ōrongomai Marae, Upper Hutts only Marae. It is a vibrant and urban Marae which holds space in the heart of the community. The Marae has a long and close relationship with the District Council, and worked with us as our local kaitiaki and as neighbours to the park.
The Kaumātua led key project milestones such as the breaking of the ground and pre-construction blessing, followed by the blessing of the facility before it opened publicly.
Since completion, the park has had a bilingual name meaning ‘our playground’ which speaks to recognise the space as a local treasure to be shared by all people, local and beyond.
It is a privilege to have designed Maidstone Max Tō Tātou Papa Tākaro and for it to have been nominated and chosen as Playground of the year by Recreation Aotearoa, Te Whai Oranga. We endeavour to continue to push the art of park design further, and to continue to cater to the communities who utilise these facilities turning them into living and breathing spaces of culture and inclusion.