The highly anticipated William Nelson Park opened yesterday, attracting hundreds of revellers who made the most of the day under clear blue skies.
Mayor Lawrence Yule declared the park officially open in front of members of the Hastings District Council, Ngati Kahungunu and descendants of William Nelson himself.
He thanked the audience for their support in turning the park into reality after the controversial sale of the original Nelson Park in 2007.
"This park has been designed with the whole community in mind. We've waited a long time but we can duly all be very proud of it. This is a fantastic addition of green space and youth-orientated facilities for the centre of town. It helps meet our commitments from the sale of the former Nelson Park, and provides world-class facilities for young people."
Hastings district councillor Sandra Hazlehurst also took to the stage.
"We're just so proud; what an awesome journey it has been. This park has been the vision of so many people. May I begin by acknowledging the young people who wrote to the mayor way, way back. There are so many people that wanted a skate park in Hastings and they've been on our case ever since."
The Hastings Youth Council first presented the idea for a skate park in 2008, and in 2012 the same council undertook fundraising including cooking 1600 sausages as part of a major fundraiser. Cr Hazlehurst thanked the skate park development committee headed by Rachel Stewart for their "time and dedication". She also mentioned the William Nelson Park skate crew, who will be role models in place to look after the park.
Safety will be a key focus of the new park, with CCTV cameras installed to overlook it.
For the next eight weeks two guardians will be at the park from mid-day until 9pm to ensure the safety and good behaviour of park users. An experienced security guard will take over at 9pm and remain at the park throughout the night.
A coach will also be at the park from 3pm until 7pm, seven days a week to offer advice on how to get the most out of the facility.
William Nelson's lasting legacy in Hawke's Bay was a key theme of the opening yesterday.
He has been remembered by many as the father of Hawke's Bay for his role in building employment and wealth through the Tomoana Freezing Works, which helped develop the economy of Hastings in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Ancestors of William Nelson also joined in the festivities, some even flying in from Sydney to be part of the occasion.
Michael Verberkt, a direct descendant of William Nelson, said he was thrilled to be invited to attend.
"It was absolutely important for us to be here. It's great so many other family members could be here, too."
Local people were joined by visitors from throughout the country who had specially made the effort to be at the opening of the park.
Mohi Paul, a skateboarder from Auckland, said he had made the trip to test out the skate park that he deems "the best in the country".
"We came down to try it out on Friday. It's just got really good flow, you can go around the park without stopping and there's a bit of everything."
About 100 young people packed out the skate plaza for much of the day, with two injuries reported in the afternoon.
A 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy were taken to hospital about 3pm by St John ambulance staff.
St John district operations manager Stephen Smith said the 12-year-old had been knocked out after falling from a skateboard, he was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital and was listed in a stable condition.
The 15-year-old was taken to hospital with an injury to his knee.
Local mother, Kandy Raroa, brought her three children along and said the park would be great for the children of Hastings.
"We couldn't wait until it opened up. We've been walking past every day to see the progress. It gives the kids somewhere to come with their scooters and their skateboards."
The park is on 6000sq m of land bordering St Aubyn St, King St and Avenue Rd.