For a place dedicated to the winemaking forebears of West Auckland, Pioneer Park could look a lot better. Joanna Davies takes a walk to see what's happening.

The Pioneer Winemaker stands on his plinth, a shovel resting across his shoulder, looking out across the busy Alderman Drive roundabout. Traffic rushes past, and no one glances up at the winemaker or the park behind him.

He's not surprised. There are other, bigger parks around Henderson. Why would people bother to climb the banks of this one?

Henderson's Rotary Club wants to change this indifference and make better use of Pioneer Park, which has been neglected for some years.

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Club member Paul Erceg says the group has been working for nearly a year to come up with fresh designs for the park.

"We thought we'd approach the council with some ideas to make better use of it," says Mr Erceg. "We want it to be something for the community and Rotary will fundraise for it."

He says the club needed a new project to work on after completing a garden at Waitakere Hospital.

Although the roads around the park are busy, there are lots of well-established trees and a raised area that could be suitable for a playground. A stream trickles along one edge, and there are plans for a path beside it.

For design ideas, Rotary recruited students from Unitec's landscape architecture school.

Tony Soljan, another Rotary member, says more than 30 concepts were drawn up.

"There are some beautiful trees here, and the designs make the most of them. There is a plan for a playground away from the road, and there is one design for a cobbled area like a square with plenty of seating. One design had grapevines to reflect the heritage of the area and tie in with the statue."

Rotary fundraiser Pene Burridge says a lot of money will need to be raised before any work can begin. "We are already planning for a golf tournament in March and some of the proceeds will go into this," she says.

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Waitakere City Council has shortlisted the concepts and may include elements from each of them in the park's final design.

Unitec's senior lecturer of landscape architecture, Penny Cliffin, says the project has been a popular part of her class' coursework for the year.

"It did have a lot of educational objectives and the council has said they will keep in touch with the students as they finalise the designs," she says.

Henderson Community Board has given the Rotary Club $14,500 to start the project but, at this stage, there is no time frame for it to be finished.

"It does depend on how much we can fundraise," says Mr Erceg, "and the wheels of democracy can turn slowly."

Vintage year

The statue of the Pioneer Winemaker was a gift to Waitakere City by 32 wine-making families in the area.

The statue was sculpted by Anthony Stone and unveiled in 1996 by then-Governor-General, Dame Catherine Tizard.