Diane Ammundsen Track: A Good Idea

Anyone who knows Diane will know she has devoted her life to this community. Kapiti Mayor, Ross Church

Recognising community service

By Roger Childs

Diane in action beside a tributary of the Wharemauku Stream
Diane in action beside a tributary of the Wharemauku Stream

Kapiti does well in providing permanent reminders of people who have worked hard for the community. We have roads remembering former mayors Iver Trask and Brett Ambler; Joan Shirley is recalled in a small Raumati South park and last year KCDC’s foundation mayor, the late Barry Hadfield, had his name added to the Nikau Reserve.

Who knows, one day the section of Kapiti Road past the golf course may be renamed Ross Church Boulevard, and there might be a Jackie Elliott Park at the south end of Gawler Street in Te Horo Beach.

Now the Council is considering naming the Wharemauku Stream path after long serving Councillor Diane Ammundsen. This would be very appropriate, as she has been closely associated with conservation over many years and with the Wharemauku wetland in particular.

Lengthy and productive service

Her contribution to local body politics on the Kapiti Coast is considerable. Diane’s popularity with voters has seen her returned to office in every election since 1989. Much of the local community has appreciated her hard work, wide ranging experience and interests, and her no-nonsense approach to local government.

Diane was the KCDC front person for Aquatic Centre fund-raising
Diane was the KCDC front person for Aquatic Centre fund-raising

She has had a large band of loyal supporters over the years, however in the rough and tumble of local body politics there have also been vocal detractors. Regardless, her record in being a part of major changes and far-sighted decisions in the Kapiti area, speaks volumes for her commitment to progress on the Coast.

A key project which she fronted in recent years was the Aquatic Centre. This enterprise had its vociferous opponents, but is now one of the District’s major sporting facilities. She also has been involved in many initiatives in promoting facilities and fund-raising for youth ventures.

Beyond council service, Diane has had a long association with Guides and the Kapiti United Church.

Diane has also been a big player in the Council’s proactive approach to conservation and sustainability in the 21st century. For this reason in particular, naming a path in her honour would be highly appropriate.

Commitment to conservation

Diane has been a key figure in developing the Wharemauku wetland
Diane has been a key figure in developing the Wharemauku wetland

In recent years there has been a proliferation of Kapiti District conservation groups from North Otaki to Paekakariki, and Diane has been the key figure in fostering cooperation between them.

She is also the coordinator of Tikotu Stream Care and Restoration Group and was a leading light in the development of the Te Roto Wetland.

As regards the Wharemauku area, she has long been an active member of the Friends of the Wharemauku Stream which works mainly at the wetland. However she was also amongst the group who, in 2014, planted the banks of a tributary of the stream close to the Library and Community Centre.

So there are many reasons why it is highly appropriate to name the Wharemauku pathway (but not the stream!), in honour of long serving councillor and committed conservationalist, Diane Ammundsen.

 

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Naming a track after Peter Daniel is an excellent idea. Until his untimely death in September last year, Peter played many roles: lighthouse keeper, tramper, councillor and, best known, looking after Kapiti Island. He was one of the Coast’s great characters and was respected for his honesty, integrity and no nonsense approach to bureaucracy and local government.

Perhaps the most appropriate way to remember Peter, would be to name the wonderful Marine Parade walkway after him, as this popular trail looks across to the iconic island where he worked so effectively for over 20 years.

Imagine if the track were named after Cr Peter Daniel. In retelling his story, for years to come we will tell Kapiti’s story, during which as a ranger for 23 years, he dreamed of making the island predator free, a daunting project. But he achieved this, by convincing the government, securing funding. then the work began, with teams of trappers slogging it for the next six years designing the traps, cutting kilometres of tracks, even abseiling over the back cliffs to catch the last of the possums. We now have our treasure, world renown Kapiti Island, haven to 1000’s of birds and more wild Kiwi per square kilometre than any other spot on earth. Thanks Peter, one day we will find a way to thank and remember you too.

I agree gentlemen that the naming, if it happens, should only take place once the councillor has retired from KCDC. Obviously the stream retains its name, however as I said in the article, Diane Ammundsen has done a lot for the development of Kapiti walkways and conservation groups, and has a long association with the Wharemauku wetland in particular. Giving her name to the track would be an acknowledgement of this involvement and not detract from the history of the area. One man’s view of the world!

Thanks Roger. No one is denying Councilor Ammundsen’s community activities. But, as you have mentioned, the walkway already has a name–Wharemauku Stream Path–with a lot of history behind that name. This walkway has been used for time immemorial and is associated with the Stream. To change the current name to a siting member of Council is unnecessary and degrades the walkway’s historic name.