Marina’s mosaic a gift of love in sensory garden

4 August, 2017 – When Marina Giostra returns to her home in Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast next week, she will leave behind a remarkable mosaic gift in a Hamilton sensory garden.

The 140 hours she donated to create her masterpiece were not only a labour of love but also an acknowledgement of what an influence Māori culture has made in the art historian’s life since her arrival six months ago.

It was a race against time – Marina’s visitor permit is about to run out and she is booked on a plane back to Italy on Tuesday (8 August).

Over the past month, through rain, hail, sleet, frost and sunshine, Marina has been down on her hands and knees delicately creating her spiral kokiri mosaic using red scoria, white avalanche, black and river stones donated by Bunnings Hamilton South.

The sensory garden at Life Unlimited Charitable Trust in Palmerston Street, Hamilton will complement the organisation’s existing multi-sensory room, Whare-O-Rongo.

The room allows people with disabilities to enjoy a wide range of experiences for therapy, learning, relaxation and fun.

The garden will provide a broader range of sensory experiences in a more natural and relaxed environment where users will be able to touch, smell and even taste the plants in a safe and inviting place.

Other volunteers and companies have also donated their materials and time. Caleb Brown and Haven Komene from Finelawn in Matangi laid a grass turf today while Elroy Liddington’s garden continued to take shape.

Life Unlimited general manager Enterprise William Hughes said the support received for the sensory garden was “uplifting”.

“Life Unlimited provides a range of services in the Waikato which fosters community participation and enables inclusion outcomes for all.

“Our programmes deliver positive change for people with disabilities and the sensory garden gives us another opportunity to support people live the life they choose,” he said.

Wendy van den Berg from the Life Unlimited Community Services team co-ordinated the volunteer involvement and talked companies into donating goods and services.

“It will be worth it when the sensory garden opens.”

People who can benefit from multi-sensory environments include children and adults with learning differences such as autism, cerebral palsy, learning and multiple disabilities, people with brain injuries, dementia sufferers and people who experience stress or anxiety.