It was time for another a 60s Up adventure, a local one today. An enthusiastic group boarded the bus and we set off for a short 20km drive for a day out to Otaki. We were looking forward to visiting the award winning Nga Purapura Sports Complex. It was while watching and enjoying the local TV series recently, The Art of the Architect, Episode 6, that we viewed the ups and downs of the birth of this massive building in take place in a rugby field. Commissioned by the Maori University Te Wananga o Raukawa, architect Hugh Tennant from Tennant and Brown took on this huge job. He was asked to create a sports complex, classrooms, gym and meditation space while embracing the Maoritanga ideas of a group of three iwi.
The $10 million dollar building boasts two international-sized netball and basketball courts with seating for 500, a well equipped gym, changing facilities, an upstairs viewing room. The Operation Manager told of the aim to develop a better and healthier lifestyle for Maori people, so all university buildings in this complex and grounds are both smoke and alcohol free. The building has been designed acoustically to hold concerts, lectures and plays, and several concerts have already been held here.
But this new facility is not just for Maori students and teachers, it was stressed, it is for the whole community to use and enjoy. Prices have been kept very low to allow for local groups to hire a room for meetings. Anyone is welcome to join the well equipped gym or take part in keep fit sessions. One of the most popular programmes on offer, he told us as he looked around our group, is suited to those in our (mature) age group. The Keep Fit session for the Over 60s is only $2 a session, to keep it affordable for local people. After a good workout they could pop in to the cafe for a coffee.
Inside the gym
The Meditation Room, known as the Peanut, sits in the foyer, and is used by students (or anyone else who feels the need) for study, or for reflection or meditation. No shoes or cell phones are allowed inside this area. And with no seating provided, limber young things either sit or lie down on the plush carpet with their laptops and books. It is very popular, we were told. Each piece of the pod was individually cut, with no two being exactly the same size.
Views of the Pod
There were lovely examples of Maori carving and weaving throughout the foyer, including several beautiful cloaks.
We were very pleased to have the chance to look through this exciting new building, and it was interesting to hear that the people in charge wish to make available to all. After a not so memorable lunch in one of the cafes and a look around the outlet shops, we boarded the bus again. Peter, our friendly bus driver, took us on a bit of a “tiki tour” along Marine Parade before joining SH1 and heading northwards. The sun was shining, the waves were gently rushing to shore, and all looked great in our little piece of paradise.