Celebrating Kapiti Parks

Parks play a vital role in creating liveable cities and thriving communities.  They are our most frequented spaces for recreational activities and provide opportunities for tourism, conservation and the social interaction that is vital for a connected and resilient population. Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC)

Parks week is over but keep enjoying them!

By Roger Childs

Kids playing soccer on new fields south of the Waikanae River
Kids playing soccer on new fields south of the Waikanae River

Over the last eight days there have been events to celebrate Parks Week at a number of local parks and reserves from Haruatai Park in Otaki to Campbell Park in Paekakariki.

It is always great to see people out in these green spaces walking, running, riding, playing games and generally enjoying themselves.

The Kapiti Coast is fortunate to have so many spaces where you can get away from the traffic and streets. KCDC in recent years has placed more emphasis on parks and conservation areas so that residents can enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the transformation of local environments.

Significant KCDC management

In the 21st century, the Council has expanded its involvement in increasing the number of tracks, upgrading existing pathways and supporting the 20+ conservation groups.

Currently KCDC:

The Kapiti Sports Turf: one of many excellent local sports facilities
The Kapiti Sports Turf: one of many excellent local sports facilities

~ maintains more than 500 hectares of sports grounds and other parks

~ manages close on 80 kilometres of walkways, cycleways and horse riding tracks

~ employs about 30 staff to maintain these reserves and trails.

Highly beneficial initiatives

The Te Roto Wetland: an industrial dump becomes an attractive environment
The Te Roto Wetland: an industrial dump becomes an attractive environment

In recent years there have been many farsighted developments initiated by Council, (sometimes assisted by the Department of Conservation), such as

~ the purchase and development of the Howarth Block south of the Waikanae River

~ the development of the track from Waterstone to Otaihanga Road

~ extending the shingle and boardwalk trail from Manly Street to Otaihanga

~ turning an old polluted swamp near Te Roto Drive into an attractive wetland.

KCDC also assisted the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) in developing the popular 6km cycleway through Queen Elizabeth Park from Tilley Road, Paekakariki to Poplar Avenue Raumati South.

Positive transformation!

Planting near the Library in July 2014: have a look at it now!
Planting near the Library in July 2014: have a look at it now!

Kapiti residents who use the Library and Community Centre at Paraparaumu, will have noticed the dramatic vegetation growth in the zone along the banks of the adjacent creek. About two years ago this area had been damaged by floods, and was eroded and untidy.

So in July 2014, KCDC organised a planting bee involving Transpower staff and member of the Friends of the Wharemauku Stream to put in over 2500 flaxes, trees and shrubs.

The transformation has been dramatic, as the plants have thrived in this micro-climate to cover the bare ground and create a forest in the making.

This is one of many examples where KCDC and local conservation groups have successfully changed landscapes in the district.

One of most extensive transformations has been along the south bank of the Waikanae River, where over a distance of about 4 kilometres, tens of thousands of plants have enhanced the riparian environment and improved the experience for hundreds of track users.

Time to reclaim Queen Elizabeth Park?

Time for local management of a local public reserve?
Time for local management of a local public reserve?

The largest green space in the Kapiti District is Queen Elizabeth Park. It is currently administered by the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) under the 1977 Reserves Act.

However, in recent times there have been serious questions raised about this management, especially related to aerial and ground level spraying with Roundup and other poisons, and over GWRC financing of private park farming operations.

Currently there is a major project under way in the park using a substantial biodiversity grant which the late John Lancashire was instrumental in obtaining from the Ministry of the Environment. Most of the people involved in this enterprise are local residents.

It may just be time for KCDC to take over the management of this popular park, which is located in Kapiti and mainly used by folk from the district.

So it would be great in 2017, if Celebrating Kapiti Parks could include an event in the biggest green public space on the Coast.