Success for Hutt City Council at the Kūmara Awards

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Published: 16 April 2024

A Hutt City Council community project has won the Looking Back to Move Forward category at the 2024 Kūmara Awards.

The Kūmara Awards began in 2020 to celebrate placemaking projects that make a positive difference to life in public spaces. At the heart of the awards is the Whakatauākī | Māori proverb ‘Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka – the kumara does not say how sweet it is.’

Council’s Pou Hoahoa Māori |Kaupapa Māori Design Officer Joshua Ambler, supported by Council’s Urban Design team, collaborated with Wainuiomata marae and other members of the local community to design a series of wayfinding tohu. The Tātarakihi (Cicada) Wayfinding motif is used on key school routes as part of the Maru Streets for People project in Wainuiomata. Applied first as temporary spray chalking, the motifs will be applied as reflective curb treatments later this year.

The use of tātarakihi has deep cultural significance. In Toi Māori (traditional Māori art) the humming or clicking sound made by tātarakihi is associated with the energy of children. Tātarakihi is also a symbol used by Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui.

Ambler says he was caught by surprise when the project won the award held in Wellington.

“For us placemaking/place keeping plays a huge role in acknowledging the rich tapestry of Te Awa Kairangi. It’s truly about reconnecting tangata to the whenua and celebrating unique stories that speak to the ahua of place."

Economy & Development Director Jon Kingsbury was thrilled that the hard mahi by the urban design team was recognised.

“It is a moment well worth celebrating. Tātarakihi Wayfinding not only has a practical purpose but also brings joy to the city environment in a unique way.”

You can watch Joshua Ambler talk about Tātarakihi Wayfinding here.

Another Council initiative, Candy Lane – a playful laneway improvement in Wainuiomata using 80% recycled materials was also a finalist in the Kūmara Awards. Candy Lane is an interactive sculpture with coloured blocks that fold in and out of view, decorating the laneway between Totara Street and Karamu Crescent in Wainuiomata.