Walk in the realms of deities and follow te ara whakataukii (the path of proverbs) to the world’s only traditional productive Maaori garden.

See how Aotearoa’s first gardeners adapted their tropical crops for a colder climate and learn how local Ngaati Wairere ancestors lived on this whenua (land).

Te Parapara showcases the traditional gardening skills developed by Waikato Maaori and is Aotearoa’s only traditional Maaori productive garden. Using techniques developed and handed down through the generations, Te Parapara showcases the skills needed to grow kuumara and other tropical crops in a colder climate. The garden also tells the story of the settlement of this whenua by Ngaati Wairere and introduces the gods of wild and cultivated food.



Free entry

Best viewed: all seasons

9.00am - 5.00pm, last entry 4.30pm

Easily accessible

NZ native flora

What you'll find in the Te Parapara Garden

  • Traditional Maaori materials, ceremonies, and carvings
  • Find out what food and crops were of significance to Maaori
  • See how early Maaori used to protect their food against predators.

Background of the Te Parapara Garden

Te Parapara Garden showcases traditional practices, materials, and ceremonies relating to food production and storage, drawn from the knowledge of local Maaori which has been passed down through the generations.

The garden tells the story of the establishment of cultivated food crops in the Waikato, from the landing of the Tainui waka to the era of the expansive plantations that were described in the 1840s by European visitors.

This garden embodies the deep traditions and early history of Maaori, New Zealand’s indigenous culture.

It shows how the first Polynesian arrivals to Aotearoa used the plants they found growing wild and it demonstrates the new techniques they developed for growing tropical crops in a sub-tropical climate. Te Parapara Garden also shows the cultural context that integrated and regulated the agronomic life of pre-European Waikato/Ngati Wairere society.

Displaying plants traditionally used as resources and those of cultural Maaori significance, Te Parapara’s plant displays are set within a design that refers to traditional built structures as well as to the cultural aspects of gardening. Te Parapara is divided into two realms: 

  • Te Ara Whakatauki (the path of proverbs), which lies between the Piazza and the waharoa (gateway), is the realm of the uncultivated food from the forest and grassland. The ruler of this realm is Haumia-tiketike, deity of wild food plants.
  • Te Taupa (the garden), beyond the waharoa, is the realm of cultivated food, ruled by Rongomatane, deity of the kuumara and all cultivated food plants.

History of Te Parapara

Te Parapara was originally the name of the pre-European Maaori settlement in what is now the centre of Hamilton Gardens.

Before Europeans arrived, the riverbanks throughout central Waikato were lined with many Maaori gardens, so the Waikato/Tainui horticultural heritage in this area is of national significance. The Te Parapara/Hamilton Gardens site was at one time home to Haanui, a famous Ngati Wairere chief, and was particularly renowned as a site of sacred rituals associated with the harvesting of food crops. Te Ikamauroa, a sacred alter or shrine, known as Tuahu, was associated with rituals in this area.

Te Parapara Garden project is a joint project between Nga Mana Toopu and Hamilton City Council. It extends beyond a physical development to include records of traditional knowledge, interpretive material, and ceremonies all focused on the heritage and tikanga associated with the local area.

Ready to walk the path of deities? Explore the Te Parapara Garden today.

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