After an eleventh-hour communication glitch, the Ohope Water Slide is open for business.
Ōhope's Sam Oliver is behind the new summer attraction that has been constructed on farmland bordering Pohutukawa Ave and, if successful, may become an annual event.
Oliver has wanted to create a farm-based waterslide for several years and contacted the owners of the Pirini Block, the Keepa family, a few months ago.
Having studied industrial design at Massey University at Wellington, Oliver worked for an Auckland engineering firm for a year before losing his job due to Covid-19.
Since then, he has been chopping firewood, planting pine trees … and planning his entrance into the tourism industry, working with Sheldon Keepa to make his fun dream a reality.
Oliver completed all the paperwork and consents he understood were required for the activity and had several meetings with the Whakatane District Council, which resulted in a "safe solution" for parking on the grass verge along Pohutukawa Ave.
The verge is commonly used by people selling their vehicles or visitors to the Ohope Craft Market.
"They told me 'good luck with the event'," Oliver said.
However, on Monday, the waterslide hit an unanticipated bump.
Oliver received a call from one of the new managers at the council, telling him that the person who gave permission for the activity was not authorised to do so, and he would be held liable if he went ahead.
"They pulled the plug," he said.
Attempts to meet with the manager to discuss the situation were initially unsuccessful until Keepa intervened and insisted on a meeting.
"It was very unfair," Keepa said.
"This young man had spent several weeks on the project, meeting with councils, paying for lawyers and digging operations and getting a 15,000-litre water tank up on the hill."
When the Whakatane Beacon contacted council transportation manager Martin Taylor about the situation, he said it was the first he had heard of it, but he would look into it.
"I am in favour of those kind of events," he said.
Following a meeting at the council on Tuesday, the project was back on.
"Discussions took place with the consent holder and landowner and a mutual agreement was reached on making some changes to how parking and traffic will be managed at the site to improve safety," Taylor said.
He said the main changes were to create onsite parking for visitors and to have clear signage directing them where to go.
"We think this is a great outcome and hope all users have a fun and safe experience at the summer event venue," he said.
The 125m slide opened this week.
"I saw a school bus go past and all the kids were pressed against the window, looking at the slide," Oliver said.
The waterslide is open from 10am till 6pm daily at a cost of $15 per person for a one-hour pass.
A spring on the property feeds a water tank, which provides water for the slide. The overflow from the pool at the bottom goes through a silt trap before leaving the land.
The Keepa family are not charging for use of the land and are happy to see a community event taking place.
- Whakatane Beacon