Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan says criticism of the Kapiti Gateway Project by Cr Bernie Randall and Community Board member Guy Burns are not only full of misinformation but, even worse, an attack on the ancestral memories of local iwi.
He says they dismissed the legitimate iwi aspirations as “… a memorial to someone’s foolishness.”
Local iwi were involved in shaping the Maclean Park Te Uruhi Reserve Management Plan, he reminds Cr Bernie Randall and Paraparaumu Board deputy chair Guy Burns.
The Mayor says they (local Iwi ) were, and are, involved in the choice of architects and the design that includes Waharoa or carved gateway and a series of carved totems called Pouwhenua.
He says: “These commemorate their sacred ancestral connections to Kapiti Island and Te Uruhi Pa. This Pa once covered the whole of Paraparaumu Beach and beyond.
“In their public statements criticising the council project, they said that Maclean Park should only be a gateway ‘to the cherished memories of family, of playgrounds, BBQs, picnics and sandcastles.’
“And that ‘People living in Paraparaumu want a living park not a memorial to someone’s foolishness.’”
The Mayor says everyone accepts the recent memories of the Park, but no one should deny the deeper memories of history held by local iwi.
“The elected members rude public dismissal of the right of tangata whenua to reclaim their living memories of ancestral connections to the land and Island is deplorable,” says the Mayor.
“Those connections include the Kapiti Island stronghold of the formidable Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha.
“This chief gave New Zealand its unofficial second national anthem “Ka Mate Ka Mate”. A war-cry known across the world through the All Blacks.
“Te Uruhi Pa and Kapiti Island is also the source of the inspiring story of Kahe Te Rau-o-terangi who, in 1824, swam 7 miles from the Island to the mainland, with her baby strapped to her back, to warn her tribe of an impending invasion from the south.
“Certainly one of the most legendary stories of NZ’s history. Kena Kena Primary School has a large wall mural of Kahe’s swim in memory of that feat.
“Kahe was also one of just five women who signed the Treaty of Waitangi. These historical figures and the Pa feature in the community-consulted Maclean Park Te Uruhi Management Plan. This publicly-consulted document provided the context for the Gateway project.”
Three years ago, a submission to council highlighted the need to commemorate Kahe at Paraparumu Beach with an art installation and an annual Kapiti Island to mainland Kahe commemoration swim event for women, says Mayor Gurunathan.
It was supported by the Community Board, Kapiti Women’s Centre, the Chamber of Commerce and Kena Kena Primary School. Given all these, Cr Bernie and Mr Burns, as elected representatives of the Paraparaumu Ward, cannot claim ignorance as an excuse.
“Dismissing the Gateway’s ability to commemorate this amazing history as ‘a memorial to someone’s foolishness’ smacks of neo-colonial prejudice.
“Maclean Park has memories of playgrounds, picnics and BBQs and these will continue. But its not exclusive as claimed by Bernie and Burns.
“The public have already included the deep, rich tapestry of memories that belong to tangata whenua in the Management Plan. The Kapiti Gateway is designed to reflect that.”
The Mayor’s ‘List of ( Alleged) Misinformation Peddled by the Foolish Bernie & Burns‘
1) “A huge Kapiti Island building that will stretch from the basketball court back to the Tikotu Stream”.
Fact: The building’s footprint is only 235sqm including decking and a new bridge over a rehabilitated Tikotu Stream. Single storey with open, multi purpose space with views to Kapiti Island and improved access to the beach.
2) “As well as a massive economic cost, the gateway will have a massive negative impact on Maclean Park and the surrounding area by taking valuable car parking space.”
Fact: The Gateway will House a purpose built bio-security area for visitors to the Island. A critical facility for the protection of the nationally endangered biodiversity on the Island. The building includes a Discovery Centre to promote local tourism activities. And space for the public to use and enjoy the views. These add higher public use value than currently available. While it’s proposed that car parks in the immediate area would be reduced from 32 to 16, a new off-site car parking for 30 cars has been identified for people traveling to the island.
The proposed ratepayer contribution towards the cost of the Gateway building is $2m – as signalled in the LTP. We are also seeking to secure the balance of $2m from the Provincial Growth Fund. We have repeatedly shared information with the community on the opportunities offered by the PGF to our district. Further work will be done to try and reduce the ratepayers share through other grants and sponsorships.
3) “It is estimated the Gateway will require ongoing ratepayer’s funds of over half a million dollars per year to operate.”
Facts. Ongoing costs for running have been calculated to be less than $200K in Year 1 and reducing to zero in Year 5. The regional economic benefit of the Gateway for Year 1 via tourism has been calculated at $5.91m in revenue, $1.3m in net household income and employment for 27 people. Also important, the Gateway project is “shovel ready” for construction creating jobs to help kick-start a local economy impacted by Corvid-19. On completion it will help Paraparaumu Beach compete for the regional local tourism trade.
4) “New toilets goodness me no. Let’s build a discovery centre and shop right on the beach centimetres from climate change sea level rise.”
Facts: The toilets at the main entrance to Maclean Park are planned to be replaced with a new toilet/shower separate block. The Gateway itself will have 3 toilets. Their comment is also incorrect and misleading as the landscaping around the building will have a very positive impact on the Maclean Park environment and public. For example the stormwater runoff from the car park currently discharges directly into the Tikotu Stream. The new car park will have swales or water gardens to treat the water before any excess is released into the stream.