Cultural maze wins $10,000 funding

Stylised outline of a taniwha's face won the Dragon's Den "bring your idea to life" start-up category

Stylised outline of a taniwha's face won the Dragon's Den "bring your idea to life" start-up category

A-MAZED: Gisborne man Dion McLeod has been awarded $10,000 for his win in the New Zealand Maori Tourism Awards' "bring yuour idea to life" category for his garden maze concept. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

A design for a garden maze with a cultural spin has won Gisborne man Dion McLeod a New Zealand Maori Tourism award of $10,000.

Of the award’s five categories, Mr McLeod’s circle within a circle design with the stylised outline of a taniwha’s face at the centre won the Dragon’s Den “bring your idea to life” start-up category.

The native garden maze is made up of a 100-metre diameter outer ring and an 87-metre inner ring. Mr McLeod’s vision is to double the size of it.

Hedges lined with a variety of native plants will make up the outer and inner rings, the symmetrical koru that comprise the lower part of the stylised face pattern and the “eyes” above.

A comment made by actor Leonardo DiCaprio in a documentary screened at the Odeon multiplex contributed to the principle behind the concept.

“He said kids can name off the top of their heads a thousand or more brands but they don’t know the names of 10 plants or birds from their own country.

“How great would it be for locals and visitors to be able to identify indigenous species of plants and birds native to our country and understand their benefits?”

Mr McLeod would like the information signs to include the story of the taniwha that guided voyaging waka to New Zealand.

He has some ideas for the types of native plants he might use. Kawakawa around the circumference of the outer ring could give the perimeter a fuzzy appearance, while varieties of harakeke (flax) would add splashes of colour to other parts of the maze. Ponga ferns are a possibility for the face’s “eyelids”

Signs will explain the traditional medicinal value of some plants and what native birds certain plants attract.

“It’s not a traditional maze but more of a garden,” says Mr McLeod, who has his eye on land near the airport as a site for the maze.

“What impressed the judges was that people flying in to Gisborne airport would be able to see the garden maze from the plane.

“The $10,000 award is to help fund the project.”

He expects the plants to take two years to grow to two metres.

“I need to research which are the fastest growing natives. In future I plan to add a taniwha “body” to the initial design.”

Mr McLeod also sees an opportunity for artists to display work such as carved driftwood furniture and pou at the site.

A ta moko artist who was also a finalist in the “bring your idea to life” category was so impressed with the garden maze concept, he is keen to help bring his project to fruition.

A design for a garden maze with a cultural spin has won Gisborne man Dion McLeod a New Zealand Maori Tourism award of $10,000.

Of the award’s five categories, Mr McLeod’s circle within a circle design with the stylised outline of a taniwha’s face at the centre won the Dragon’s Den “bring your idea to life” start-up category.

The native garden maze is made up of a 100-metre diameter outer ring and an 87-metre inner ring. Mr McLeod’s vision is to double the size of it.

Hedges lined with a variety of native plants will make up the outer and inner rings, the symmetrical koru that comprise the lower part of the stylised face pattern and the “eyes” above.

A comment made by actor Leonardo DiCaprio in a documentary screened at the Odeon multiplex contributed to the principle behind the concept.

“He said kids can name off the top of their heads a thousand or more brands but they don’t know the names of 10 plants or birds from their own country.

“How great would it be for locals and visitors to be able to identify indigenous species of plants and birds native to our country and understand their benefits?”

Mr McLeod would like the information signs to include the story of the taniwha that guided voyaging waka to New Zealand.

He has some ideas for the types of native plants he might use. Kawakawa around the circumference of the outer ring could give the perimeter a fuzzy appearance, while varieties of harakeke (flax) would add splashes of colour to other parts of the maze. Ponga ferns are a possibility for the face’s “eyelids”

Signs will explain the traditional medicinal value of some plants and what native birds certain plants attract.

“It’s not a traditional maze but more of a garden,” says Mr McLeod, who has his eye on land near the airport as a site for the maze.

“What impressed the judges was that people flying in to Gisborne airport would be able to see the garden maze from the plane.

“The $10,000 award is to help fund the project.”

He expects the plants to take two years to grow to two metres.

“I need to research which are the fastest growing natives. In future I plan to add a taniwha “body” to the initial design.”

Mr McLeod also sees an opportunity for artists to display work such as carved driftwood furniture and pou at the site.

A ta moko artist who was also a finalist in the “bring your idea to life” category was so impressed with the garden maze concept, he is keen to help bring his project to fruition.

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