The spectacularly leafy and peaceful arboretum and sculpture park near Tauwhare is opening free of charge on Waitangi Day.
It follows well-attended, free-entry days on Boxing Day and Anniversary weekend as owners John and Dorothy Wakeling share the park again and gauge interest in saving it from permanent closure.
The couple believe they have almost singlehandedly created a valuable community asset from a wasteland and are keen for the park and the biodiversity that it nurtures to be secured for future generations.
They’ve launched a crowd funding campaign on the arts fundraising website Boosted.org.nz and hope to raise enough funds for an independent assessment of the park’s ongoing maintenance and health and safety needs. The results will be used to inform would-be sponsors of their likely commitment.
The 17.5ha arboretum and sculpture park, rehabilitated from a disused quarry over the last 26 years, has been a popular art exhibition space, and recreation area since the first sculpture exhibition was staged in 2003.
The Wakelings believe the future of the park, 15km east of Hamilton, lies in offering the public a free, three-in-one experience. Visitors can enjoy a unique, natural environment, see the results of a challenging and successful rehabilitation project now sequestering atmospheric carbon, and have an arts-in-nature experience.
They cannot personally support its upkeep at a standard for public entry but hope to attract sponsors who share their vision for sharing it with the public.
The recent open days have been to remind people what the park has to offer. From November 2004 to 2013 it was open daily but in the last few years visits have been by appointment only.
On Waitangi Day the park, at 207 Scotsman Valley Rd, with its shady walkways and picnic spots will be open from 10am to 5pm. More information on the park’s website.
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