By Julia Czerwonatis
A major development at Whangārei's waterfront due to open at the end of the year promises to bring more events and activities for young and old.
The new $6.6 million Town Basin park, which has been under construction since late last year, is taking shape and will offer a range of features including an amphitheatre, a great lawn for community events and several interactive instalments for children.
While Covid might have affected the opening day originally planned for December 3 in conjunction with the Hundertwasser Art Centre, the project is progressing well, the Whangārei District Council says.
"The amphitheatre and great lawn is complete and a large number of plants and trees have been planted," WDC's project engineer for the infrastructure planning and capital works department Deva Howat said.
"The structural steel has been erected for the giant shade structure, which will then have purple heart timber and canvas fixed to it.
"The timber boardwalk is almost complete. The focus is currently on the water feature, footpaths and the central plaza."
WDC hopes to establish the amphitheatre and great lawn as a location for community concerts, markets and events.
"There will be regular weekend food and artisan markets. The amphitheatre will be an amazing space for concerts, outdoor cinema and theatre, all things to look forward to as the Covid/Delta situation eases," Howat said.
Once the outbreak is contained, the council will announce a first round of planned events.
The new park, located between the Canopy Bridge and the Hundertwasser Art Centre, will provide a link between Whangārei's waterfront, the Huarahi o te Whai Hātea Loop Walkway and the central city .
Unique designs for kids will also connect to the playground at the Town Basin that opened at the start of the year.
There will be an interactive water feature at the centre of the park, with LED lights and streams of water to cool everyone down on hot days.
During events the water jets can be turned off so that the area becomes a large flat paved plaza.
Children will be able to bounce, jump and balance their way around the play space designed by Kiwi firm Numat, which created colourful rubber mounds, spinning balls, two small in-ground trampolines and a low tightrope for the park.
Shade will be provided by a patterned timber structure designed by local firms Main 4 Architects and RS Engineering that can be covered with canvas for extra sun protection during summer.
And there is more to look forward to for kids: equipment for a large destination playground on Pohe Island is due to arrive in January with the opening planned for March. This is in addition to the new skatepark, also located on Pohe Island.
Meanwhile, a name still has to be found for the new Town Basin park.
The site has a rich Māori and European history, which has provided plenty of inspiration for the public who were invited to put forward naming ideas for the park.
Under the guidance of representatives of the hapu of the area, Te Parawhau and Ngati Kahu o Torongare, Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai and all councillors will select a name.