Weekly column by Kāpiti Mayor K Gurunathan.
Last month, Auckland Council released its City Centre Masterplan as part of its transformational investment programme, which aims to reshape its CBD.
The city's principal urban designer, George Weeks, noted that with more than 40,000 people, including families, living in the city centre, the centre is no longer just a CBD.
The masterplan envisages a centre with green public spaces. Not only will the greening appeal to a sense of wellbeing and nurture biodiversity but it will be designed to help the city centre become a low-carbon region to help meet Auckland's response to climate change.
The common sense of this planned approach should not be missed by our Kāpiti Coast District as we face our own growth pressures and its challenges. The Wellington region's growth projection of 200,000 more people over the next three decades will see 30,000 of them settle in Kāpiti. But we have a CBD that is largely dead after the commercial centre of Coastlands and surrounds shut office after 5pm.
But, unlike Auckland, we don't have to retrofit green spaces too much. We still have large chunks of open space stretching from the railway station to the beachfronts of Raumati and Paraparaumu. We have a rare opportunity for very high-quality green urban designs. Last year, Hamilton and Whanganui jointly won the crown of being New Zealand's most beautiful city. A key factor the judges recognised was that both cities had turned the ambient character of their development to face their rivers and waterways.
Tomorrow, environmental historian Dr Catherine Knight will deliver a presentation on the importance of green spaces in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities. The 6.30pm event held at the Kāpiti College Performing Arts Centre will also focus on the Wharemauku Stream.
Second presenter Marco Zeeman will talk about the vision for the Wharemauku Park and Whalesong project. The stream runs from the hills, under the railway lines and the old SH1, through Coastlands, along the light industrial area, the open B3B block, through the airport land, and under the expressway before meeting the sea at Raumati Beach.
The value of this stream had been long recognised by local iwi. The stream and its network of smaller waterways and wetlands were a food source for early Māori. Later urban development saw the values of the stream gradually reduced to stormwater functions. Twenty years ago local iwi Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai started asserting for the restoration of the stream. A working group was formed consisting of six organisations including iwi, KCDC, Connell Wagner, GWRC, DOC, and Forest and Bird.
The group developed baseline information along the stream, prepared educational information for public display, and convened public meetings to canvass community views. A draft report was published providing an overview of the work done and summarising the views and objectives identified by the community and working group. The information recounted here is adopted from that document, which was seen as a working document flexible enough to be altered as "community needs and requirements change".
It's worth quoting from that document further, noting that a series of public displays were held in October 2001. It was to inform the community about the proposed management plan and receive feedback on community views and priorities for the future management of the stream. The following month two public meetings were held where community issues were raised. A submission process was activated "... to identify issues facing the Wharemauku, the importance of the Wharemauku to individuals, and gave the community input into what they would like the Wharemauku Stream to look like in the future".
So the Wharemauku Stream Community Freshwater Plan was published in draft form in June 2005. Today, we don't have a comprehensive idea of the stream from its source in the hills to the sea.
I know local iwi have, over the years, consistently raised issues around the contamination of the stream with both the KCDC and GWRC with little success. We know that a committed group at Kaitawa Reserve has worked hard and done an excellent job restoring the stream biodiversity on that section.
The Friends of the Wharemauku Stream group have done some work on the lower reaches. It will be good to hear their stories tomorrow. Huge growth and development pressure is coming to bear on the Paraparaumu Town Centre environment. Time to blow the dust off the Freshwater Plan. Come and be part of the conversation tomorrow.