A remarkable New Zealand garden, winner in 2004 of a coveted Chelsea Flower Show gold medal, was recreated permanently in late 2006 in Taupo to allow this extraordinary garden to be seen in its homeland. Its native flora and steamy geothermal areas are typical of what can be found naturally in the central North Island. Ora was officially opened at Taupo Museum during the spring of 2007.
This is the ‘100% Pure New Zealand Ora – Garden of Wellbeing’ and it was replanted in Taupo as a longterm living exhibit in a courtyard at the museum by the original team of designers and artists – Kim Jarrett, Lyonel Grant, Tina Hart, Doug Waugh, Trish Waugh and Brian Massey. This is a recreation of the first show garden to be taken by Tourism New Zealand to London to showcase ‘a slice of New Zealand’. Ora’s gold medal success and its subsequent publicity far exceeded anything they had imagined. As well as thousands of visitors to Chelsea, the garden featured on a BBC special which was viewed by millions of people.
The Ora Garden contains a number of special Maori cultural design elements including kaitiaki guardian figures and a large taniwha water feature created by artist Lyonel Grant. The garden has its own soundtrack too and fake rock speakers are hidden within the garden. Musician Richard Nunns, an authority on ancient Maori instruments, worked with engineer/producer Steve Garden to create an original soundscape merging birdsong with traditional instruments.
The Ora Garden is a popular attraction in its own right.
Taupo Museum was delighted to be accorded Garden of National Significance status in 2008, and again in 2011. Our challenge is to keep the Garden of Wellbeing true to the original spirit of creation and design as it grows and develops over time – a fascinating process. The garden is small, showgarden size (approximately 144 sq metres) but there is a fascinating story behind it and a lot of thought has gone into its creation.