Nearly 10 years since Te Puke's kiwifruit industry was devastated by the outbreak of PSA, the sector has come together to fund a bold new venture aimed at reclaiming the town's title as kiwifruit capital of the world. The new project also aims to celebrate the now "thriving" kiwifruit industry. Reporter Kiri Gillespie reveals what the new project is, where it will go and why.Two giant kiwifruit monuments will be built to help cement Te Puke's place as the kiwifruit capital of the world.
Te Puke Economic Development Group managing director Mark Boyle confirmed resource consent had now been granted to build 6m tall kiwifruit slices at Te Puke's old railway station on Jellicoe St.
One slice will face east, the other west.
Boyle said the slices were a nod to Te Puke's status as "kiwifruit capital of the world" and would complement the older giant kiwifruit slice south of the township, which was privately owned and had been repurposed.
The slices will measure up to 4m while the bases are expected to be 2m high. One will be gold, the other green.
Boyle said the kiwifruit skins will be removable to future-proof the chance of new strains of the fruit, such as the emerging red variety. Both slices will also be lit up at night.
Boyle said there was a lot of support for the project, which had taken at least 18 months of planning. The slices will cost $60,000 to build and will be privately funded from the kiwifruit sector.
"It's something that reminds people of Te Puke as kiwifruit capital of the world. It's also an acknowledgement that kiwifruit really is the backbone of our local economy.
"The industry had a low in 2010 with PSA but it has bounced back and is thriving."
The slices were a celebration of that, he said.
"Te Puke contributes significantly, nationally more than 50 per cent of kiwifruit comes from Te Puke. In that respect, it really does make Te Puke quite iconic."
The slices will also feature storyboards telling the history of Te Puke and a space where people can take photos.
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber said the slices would help reinvigorate the town and continue the story of kiwifruit's significance in the region.
"We are hopeful that it will bring back that 'neat little town in New Zealand' feel; that tourist destination feel which Te Puke had, and still has," he said.
A Tourism Bay of Plenty spokeswoman said the kiwifruit slices were a "fantastic example of place-making".
"Research has proven that visitors want to understand the places they visit and sense the destination's personality. Kiwifruit slices in the centre of Te Puke will connect our visitors with who we are and what our region is about.
"Unique destination features such as this are hot spots for visitor photography and are shared widely via social media. Te Puke will reap the future benefits of this and firmly reinforce their position as the kiwifruit capital of the world."
Henry Phillips, leaseholder where the slices would stand, said he hoped they would help attract more visitors to the town and be identified "with the likes of Paeroa and Ohakune" which each had their own iconic monuments.