Neglected stream gets new life

By Doug Laing

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It was just the most purr-fect day for the opening of Napier's Harakeke Waterway yesterday, with an almost symbolic display of feline indulgence by a ginger cat as it mingled among the small gathering.

Nudging at the feet of Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson and wrapping itself around his legs, much to the delight of Maraenui Bi-Lingual School pupils listening as Mr Wilson spoke, it was not the only display of new life appearing in the twin-councils' redevelopment of the Plantation Reserve between the suburbs of Maraenui and Marewa East.

Nearby, four ducklings made their away around the plants in the rerouted stream, formerly a neglected eyesore often more prominent for its array of car parts, bikes and rubbish.

As Mr Wilson and others spoke at the purposefully low-key opening and dedication, including three carved wooden pou created by Waiohiki craftsman Hugh Tareha, frogs could also be heard down by the stream.

The project was designed by regional council environmental engineer Pat Whitesell, who has been with it almost since the day he arrived from the sub-zero temperatures of his native Alaska in February 2010 to take up a role in habitat restoration.

In the absence of Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott, councillor Keith Price spoke of the partnership between the regional and city councils in developing the area, possibly the first time there had been such collaboration on such a project.

The realigning of the stream, which flows westward to the Ahuriri lagoon, was done by contractors, but much of the planting of native trees and shrubs was done by local pupils.

Some work is still to be completed, including a BMX track, a board outlining history of the area depicted on the three carvings, and placement of part of the area's once unwanted rubbish, a car bonnet removed from the stream and regenerated as an artwork. Other unwanted artwork, tagging and graffiti daubed on a mural and fences earlier this week, was removed in time for yesterday's ceremony.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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