Recognising history and stories of the landscape through an experiential response.

Pāpāmoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park is a significant regional reserve, encompassing 135 hectares of hilly landscapes up to 224m above sea level (Mauao is 232m). Among its features are a working sheep farm, native regenerative forest land, wetlands, springs, hillside tussock, and extensive views over Tauranga, Pāpāmoa, Mount Maunganui and Maketu.

The park includes a significant cultural and archaeological history, including a number of Pa sites carved into the hills, as well as many wai springs and areas of wāhi tapu. Prior to the upgrades, visitors approached the site through a utilitarian car park. There was little opportunity to appreciate or understand the significance of the cultural history of the hills, or the centuries of generational pre-European history.


Bay of Plenty

Worked with

Te Uepu - made up of representatives of:
· Te Kapu O Waitaha
· Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust
· Ngati He
· Ngāti Pūkenga

Law Creative
Stratum Engineering

Project date

2020 - 2023

Boffa Miskell, together with Law Creative Group and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, worked with the local Iwi to hear the site’s unique stories and provide a landscape design and wayfinding strategy that recognises the iconic history through an experiential response. Signage, wayfinding and storytelling pay homage to the stories of historic life on the hills, in a sensitive and authentic approach, driven from the local iwi, up through to us as the designers to interpret and incorporate a response. Boffa Miskell provided Landscape Architecture and site design; Law Creative provided wayfinding and cultural artistry design.

Te Uepu, a group made up of representatives of the local hapu: Te Kapu O Waitaha; Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust; Ngati He and Ngāti Pūkenga; were involved in all design stages, providing the history and cultural background of the site’s almost 1,000 years of settlement and life which predate European settlement.

The resulting site design and implementation, completed in late 2023, includes a unique new car park and park entrance. The car park and entry area include bespoke seating, native planting, rain gardens, a bespoke toilet (designed by Boffa Miskell), a natural play area and lawn. A tomokanga and pedestrian bridges crossing the waterways separate the car park entry to the trails up and around the Pāpāmoa hills. At the tomokanga, in the heart of the entry, includes a circular seating area, with signage and a 3d relief map set in stone, providing a ‘timeline’ narrative to the site and the Pāpāmoa hills.

Visitors now have an opportunity to connect with the significance of the site through landscape narrative, storytelling, and bespoke design; reflective of the immense history of the Pāpāmoa Hills.