Is Paekakariki a Seventh Heaven?

Paekakariki — a little slice of paradise

Prue Hyman sings the praises of Paekakariki —

I hope I can be forgiven for starting my sixth year of this column with a mainly personal comment.

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of my arrival in the Wellington region from London – I have now spent two thirds of my life here.

In love with the sea

All but the first two years I have called Paekakariki home and love it dearly. One of my grandfathers lived at Brighton on the south coast of England and we visited at weekends when I was very young. I fell in love with the sea and the beach (even though it is very pebbly!) at 3 or 4 and vowed I must live by it one day.

Accomplishing that after 2 years in NZ meant it was very unlikely I would ever return to the UK to live, much as I love visiting there. I am happy with my frequent swims this year as always, even though it is sometimes windy and a little cool!

Paekakariki is a delightful place to live, full of individuals and families concerned for the environment and working to improve it.

Paekakariki identity Jan Nisbet checks bikers taking part in an event through at the Paekakariki end of the new cycleway

Enviro Volunteers make life worth living

The work done on the gardens, parks and trails, lizards and plants by the school and many volunteers to try to maintain and improve the environment for us and for our native species is truly impressive.

So is the artistic life of the village, with writers, musicians, arts and craft and theatre everywhere, and so many gigs at St Peter’s Hall that it is hard to know which to go to. I doubt that many villages our size run a radio station and a museum, both full of delights.

And the community spirit, websites full of giveaways, swaps and bargains, and activities are amazing in amount and scope. I enjoy interviewing locals with amazing and varied expertise and interests as part of a team on Te Pae, our local weekly one-hour radio programme on what is happening in the village.

Volunteering at the museum is fun. Last Saturday in two hours there were some 30 visitors with the wonderful walk from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay attracting increasing numbers.

What happens when the Gully opens?

Of course, Paekakariki has its problems too. There are concerns about whether Transmission Gully will affect the village and its businesses for good or ill.

The new website put together by another bunch of devoted volunteers is designed among other things to show how dynamic the village is and what a wide range of attractions there are for visitors.

Walkers onm the Te Araroa track from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay

In addition to the sea and the walking tracks, cycling is a big drawcard, with our wonderful bike library meaning that more young people are cycling to school and for fun.

There are concerns about high rates, with some longtime residents unable to afford to stay in their homes, and a housing trust is putting time into projects to assist with housing.

The main crossroads has long been a source of contention with a desire for traffic lights or a roundabout constantly thwarted and the outcome in the future uncertain.

 

And the future of the seawall and concerns about the security of houses very close to the sea is an ongoing worry. Paekakariki always has a very high Green vote at elections and most of us are fully aware of the threats posed by climate change and want to do what we can to reduce its impacts.

The Park road north of Paekakariki under threat

But there were certainly some concerns when the planning processes of KCDC led to putting warnings on LIMs which many thought to be exaggerated. Paekakarikians have a healthy scepticism about accepting the reports of councillors and bureaucrats without a good deal of examination!

But I hope I will be able to go on living in my lovely beach house for a considerable number of years to come appreciating all that my neighbours and friends do to make it a wonderful place to live.

(And I mustn’t be TOO parochial – I realize that the Kapiti Coast beyond Paekakariki is also a great place to live!)

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