News | 20 December 2021

Makeover and new name for Ōtari visitor centre

Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush Visitor Centre was reopened on Sunday with a dawn blessing, following a two-month closure for renovations.

A long boardwalk leading to a building, lit from the inside and surrounded in people, set in the canopy of native bush.

At the ceremony the centre was gifted a new name from mana whenua, Tāne Whakapiripiri. In this case the building is named after Tāne, god of the forest, who had many names. This particular name means ‘Tāne who draws people together’ - fitting for a place where people come together to learn about the nature and stories of the land and forest.  

Ōtari-Wilton's Bush is the only public botanic garden in Aotearoa entirely dedicated to native plants, so naturally quite a different approach has been taken to welcoming visitors to this special place.  

The newly refreshed interior has been thoughtfully designed to tell the stories of Ōtari from both tangata whenua and tangata tiriti perspectives. Stories of the forest and gardens are told in new and old ways, across different mediums from ancient whakataukī to interactive digital displays.

A young woman with long dark blond hair touching a white wall that has illustrations of native New Zealand plants and Māori phrases on it.

Ōtari Team Manager Tim Park is excited about the digital screens as a new way to interact and engage with visitors to the garden.   

“The displays contain stories about Ōtari, of the past, present and our hopes for the future. They’ll be regularly updated to feature different stories, particularly those about our native plants.”