It was a desire to "do something good" that led to the signing of a lease agreement between the Aupouri Ngāti Kahu Te Rarawa (ANT) Trust and the Far North District Council on Tuesday, "and good things can't be stopped".
So said Open The Curtains community initiatives manager Jason Reti moments before Manuera Riwai and Adele Gardner signed the agreement on behalf of the trust and Te Hiku Community Board respectively, at Te Ahu.
The five-year lease, with a five-year right of renewal, will allow OTC, under the trust's umbrella, develop Tangonge Park, in Bonnetts Rd. The plan includes planting of gardens and an orchard, an outdoor gymnasium, a walking track and exercise stations, a splash pad and a basketball court. Free wi-fi will also be provided.
The 'park,' once the home of Kaitaia soccer, was more recently offered by the council as a dog-walking area but was rarely used. Home to one nondescript building, until recently it had resembled an unkempt paddock.
Mr Reti said on Tuesday that at times he had been tempted to give up. There had been no textbook to follow, but two years after initially approaching the community board the project was now on a firm footing.
"We've already started, but now we can apply for council funding," he said. "We have some funds, but this lease will open a lot more doors."
OTC had no firm idea of what the development would cost, but thought about $250,000-$300,000.
Mrs Gardner said the community board had been supportive from the start. Public consultation had produced 56 submissions, 51 of them in support of the project, and she was "so pleased that it is going to happen at last".
Mr Riwai said the seed had been sown when youngsters riding their bikes in Williams Street had been asked what they would like to see in their neighbourhood. That had been followed by a youth expo at Te Ahu, Moana Erickson (OTC) saying young people had been invited to indulge in her fried bread in exchange for contributing their ideas to a plan for the park.
She had already knocked on doors around the Bonnetts Rd neighbourhood, asking families what they needed, and was repeatedly told there was nowhere but the road for children to play.
"Bonnetts Rd is still waiting for the speed humps it asked for, but it is going to get its park," she said.
"Now it's up to us as a community to keep it going.
"There is a lot of need, a lot of plain poverty, in Kaitaia West, even if both parents are working," she added.
Open the Curtains was about changing behaviours. The organisation tried to stage a street clean-up every two months, and everyone who lived in those streets was expected to get involved. The development of the park would provide a facility for families and children that would take that process a major step further.