What are our hopes and visions for Whanganui in 30 years' time?
In the second part of our Whanganui 2050 series Liz Wylie canvasses a few locals aged from 10 to almost 90 and asks them to look into the future.
Jade Joyce and Arne Leiva Benegas find it hard to imagine being 40. For the 10-year-old Keith Street School pupils, 2050 seems an age away.
"It's fun being a kid," Arne says.
"I do want to be a pilot though and you can't be a pilot if you're a kid."
Jade thinks she would like to be a fashion designer and imagines she might still be living in Whanganui or somewhere nearby.
"I can't imagine living too far away from my parents," she said.
Both children hope there will still be plenty of trees and green places in Whanganui 30
years from now, although Arne thinks he may not be living here full time.
"I hope Whanganui will have a homeless shelter for people that need it," Jade said.
Arne was born in Argentina, which is his father's native country, although his mother is from Whanganui.
"Argentina is beautiful - it has jungles, mountains and waterfalls but Whanganui is nice too.
"We have two homes."
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Along with his intention to become a pilot, Arne hopes to continue being a musician and currently plays the flugelhorn with Brass Whanganui.
"I can play the trumpet and violin as well and I think I will always want to play music."
Jade said she hopes to be using recycled materials as a designer in the future.
"It is really important for us to reuse things and to keep planting trees.
Green spaces in future Whanganui are also a priority for Rutherford Junior High students Jeide Tyrell (13) and Xavius Smith (12).
Jeide is unsure if she will be living in Whanganui as a 43-year-old but she imagines it will be a bigger city by then.
"I hope that Whanganui will be looked after and the houses won't be too close together.
"I hope there will still be plenty of green spaces and trees."
She plans to study medicine and become a doctor.
"I'm not sure what sort of doctor because new branches of medicine are being developed all the time and there will probably be more by then.
"I know that people who do their medical training here are in demand overseas so I imagine that I will live and work overseas."
Despite those plans, Jeide says Whanganui will always be home and she will always come back to visit whānau and friends here.
Xavius has hopes of becoming a professional rugby player.
"I would really like that to be my career but Whanganui will still be my home because I'll always want to be near the awa.
"The river is the most important thing about Whanganui and people need to keep looking after it."
Four Whanganui City College students share Xavius' love for the awa and believe it must be cared for into the future.
Year 10 student Pera Maraku said she supported the awa being given legal status as a person in 2017.
"I think that recognition of the river as a living being will help protect its future," she said.
"I would like to see other rivers in Aotearoa have the same level of protection as well."
Pera intends to become an environmental lawyer and does not see herself living in Whanganui in 2050.
"I will always whakapapa back to Whanganui and be here whenever I can but I imagine that my mahi will be overseas," she said.
More needed for teenagers
All four students expressed frustration at finding little to do in Whanganui for their age group.
"We're too old for Kowhai Park now and too young to do most other things," Pera said.
"It's not really surprising that some people our age start drinking and get into trouble."
Ratunui Latus said it is frustrating to be a person in your mid-teens living in Whanganui.
"We're not children anymore but we don't have our own money and independence to make decisions about our lives."
He believes not enough thought is given to the needs of his age group.
He hopes Whanganui will have more teenage-friendly facilities 30 years from now, although he doesn't see himself living here in 2050.
"I whakapapa to the East Coast where I was born and imagine that is where I'll be in my 40s," he said.
"I love playing rugby and hockey and I would ideally like to be a professional athlete but I'm open to all options."
The military services academy at City College is another possibility for Ratunui and fellow Year 10 student Luke Holmer.
Initiated by principal Peter Kaua in 2010, the academy offers students in Years 11 to 13 opportunities to gain self-discipline, self-respect and life skills as well as the chance to experience an induction at Waiouru military camp.
"I'm really interested to find out what it's like because it seems to be a really good pathway and I've seen what older students get out of it," Luke said.
Year 9 student Raiha Hiroti is also keen to join the academy and said military experience is a whānau tradition.
"My dad and my koro have both been in the army and I love hearing their stories about their experiences and the places they've been," she says.
"I think we all have a path to follow in our lives and we have to find out what that is."
Focus on culture
One thing the students do not want to see in their futures is the existence of racism, which they see as a problem in Whanganui.
"I hope that racist attitudes won't exist in 2050," Pera said.
"There needs to be more respect for Whanganui iwi and a better understanding of local history."
Pera said she has enjoyed participating in wananga up the river at Ranana recently.
"We learned about how our tīpuna lived and about their hunting and fishing practices.
"We skinned a deer and went bobbing for eel.
"It was fun as well as challenging and it gave us a sense of achievement."
Learning about the ways people lived in the region in pre-colonial times was a good experience for everyone, Pera said.
"I want to know that those opportunities will be there for teenagers 30 years from now."
Luke Holmer said he liked the way Whanganui looked after its history.
"It is really good that there are so many heritage attractions but I think there needs to be more events and attractions for young people.
"If they want young people to stay in Whanganui they need to provide more activities and more jobs."
From milk bars to cafes
Better opportunities for young people living in Whanganui are also important to Joan and Clive Sullivan.
Although the couple enjoy a good retirement lifestyle in Summerset Village, they say they would not wish Whanganui to be seen as a "retirement city" in the future.
"The place needs diversity - employment and recreation opportunities for everyone," says Joan.
Clive, who is about to turn 90, recalls how difficult it was to leave Whanganui and move to the South Island to attend teachers' college when he was a teenager.
"I think Whanganui needs an increase in higher-learning and trades-training opportunities for young people," he says.
"It will be good if Whanganui can attract more businesses like Pacific Helmets, Ali Arc Logistics and Q West to provide work for young people."
The Sullivans say they like the way Whanganui has maintained so much of its unique heritage while keeping up with larger cities in terms of lifestyle opportunities.
"We have seen Whanganui transform from a milk bar culture to a cafe and restaurant culture," says Joan.
"We are not really arty people but we appreciate how important the arts are to Whanganui and how NZ Glassworks and all the galleries attract visitors to the city."
The couple have children, grandchildren and one great-grandchild living in Auckland and Sydney at present.
They hope that if their family were to settle in Whanganui they will be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle here in 2050.
"I imagine that Whanganui will still be a fairly small and comfortable city to live in 30 years from now," Joan said.
"I can't see it getting too much bigger because of its proximity to New Plymouth and Palmerston North."
Clive is concerned that a comfortable lifestyle has become hard to attain for a lot of younger New Zealanders and he hopes things will improve in future.
"It's not easy for people who are trying to purchase a first home now," he said.
"They have student loan debts to pay off while trying to also save for a home, and wages have not kept pace with house prices."
Joan recalls the pathway to adult life being a lot easier when she and Clive were a young couple starting out in the 1960s.
"I think it is too much of a struggle for young families now and I hope that will have changed by 2050."
The Sullivans share the young peoples' concerns for the environment and say they hope that people's awareness and efforts towards sustainable lifestyles will continue.
"There seems to be a lot of ingenuity and resourcefulness in Whanganui.
"It will be good if those initiatives get the backing they need for sustainability projects to thrive."
The Sullivans also hope people will be well cared for in the future and they believe there should be a public health system that includes free dentistry.
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