Hawke's Bay Regional Council is wrong to label the Waitangi Regional Park initiative an "enhancement project".

Wrong because it's in fact a metamorphosis.

It was only a year ago that I was whitebaiting adjacent to said park with my sons when we decided to leave due the fouled nature of its environs.

On each incoming wave our net was filled with plastic bottle tops and some sort of tissue paper - and that was after walking past a burnt-out car body and the aftermath of a litter festival.


To boot, as I parked to surfcast in the area about 10 years ago the first piece of advice I received from a local was "be sure to lock your car".

Needless to say it's been an eyesore for decades, and was in dire need of gentrification.

The park is a decent stretch of land on the boundary of Napier City and the Hastings District, covering 300ha from Waitangi to the Tukituki Estuary. Yesterday the first stage of its redevelopment was celebrated.

Regional council chairman Rex Graham told me last year he has great hopes for the site - and its new found public respect: "People do not tend to desecrate beautiful sites and especially not sacred sites".

He's spot on when he says the amenity has massive environmental, recreational and historical significance.

Te Matau a Maui Waka Voyaging Trust's large traditional celestial compass development is a masterstroke addition - due to the historical significance of waka landings and settlers.

Hats off to council and its partners in rendering this rural ghetto a stunning cultural gateway for Napier.