A lot has been happening in the background since Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced 'shovel-ready' funds for the Te Hiku Open Spaces Masterplan, initiated by the Kaitaia Business Association in collaboration with the Te Hiku Community Board.
The next step in the process, now under way, was to invite public comment on the plan, KBA chairperson Andrea Panther said last week.
"Originally we were looking at 'streetscaping,' or beautification for the Kaitaia town centre, to benefit everyone who lives in the Far North, as we all use Kaitaia as our service town," Panther said.
"When Covid-19 hit, and the shovel-ready opportunities were announced, our plans suddenly evolved to include Ahipara and Awanui, which have been working on community plans for some years now. Originally the funding application also included shared pathways linking Ahipara to Kaitaia, Kaitaia to Awanui and Awanui to Waipapakauri Ramp. The entire proposal was worth $28 million, but we were granted $7 million, so much of the work has had to be scaled back accordingly."
A proposal had been put to the Far North District Council, which was holding the money, with a local project working group formed to take over the majority of the management of the fund to ensure that local people and local resources would be used where possible.
Local expat Kevin Hoskin (Hoskin Civil) had been employed as the project manager.
"Kevin now lives in Whangārei, but has a lot of work (and family) in the North, and shares the kaupapa of the local vision," Panther added.
"Since the funding announcement, community consultation has been carried out with the original concept drawings shown in the Pak'n Save foyer, at the Saturday market, to residents and children in the Allen Bell Dr Park area and around the Korora St Park at Ahipara."
The concept plans were now on display at the Kaitaia Digital Hub (the old BNZ), with everyone welcome to look at them and comment.
"It is important to note that these are concept drawings, a baseline or starting point for our funding application," she added.
"We are consulting with the community to cement what projects are important. Iwi were consulted three times last month, and more hui are planned. We are meeting with NgāiTakoto next month.
"The Awanui Ratepayers have met several times to confirm community priorities and plans, with funding available from the community board, the NZTA and the district council, as well as the shovel-ready money. The next Awanui meeting will be at the Northland Riders' Club on Friday.
Meanwhile the Ahipara Aroha group had been formed to review the community's wish list and prioritise projects, working collaboratively with iwi and other clubs and groups, and any residents who wished to participate. It had been meeting weekly to ensure projects and plans were submitted to the council's long-term plan, and would meet again tomorrow, 6pm at the Northdrift Café, to formalise the group and draft a constitution to be adopted at a community meeting on October 28, all welcome.
The shovel-ready projects would include significant cultural art works in each of the three communities.
At the moment the project working group has been putting together the terms of reference, and is in the process of meeting with iwi chairs to present the concept, which will then be dispersed to artists in the relevant iwi," Panther said.
"There is much opportunity for collaboration at various gateways to these townships and town centre spaces, where we hope all five iwi will contribute to the vision."
Artists are invited to submit ideas that reflect the community and people for Kaitaia's major revamp. There are no limits in terms of age or qualifications, the winner to be commissioned to place work in a number of public places.
All ideas should be sent to email@example.com before October 31.