Kāpiti Councillor K Gurunathan says the Kāpiti Coast District Council has failed to give ratepayers all the facts on the Mahara Gallery project for Waikanae.
He says the Council’s latest press statement on the project, after the March 1 council workshop, has chosen to ‘gloss over some significant matters and fails to fully engage ratepayers on other issues.’He says It looks more like an attempt by supporters of the project to give it a positive spin rather than a warts-and-all presentation of the facts to ratepayers”
Cr Gurunathan also says Mahara Gallery Trust member, former deputy mayor Ann Chapman, was given a clear message at the workshop that the campaign for the proposed $4.33m Gallery, over the last few years, could be described as an “elitist affair” with no evidence Kapiti’s creative community supported it.
‘Little evidence’ of artistic support
“There’s little or no evidence of Kapiti’s writers, painters, actors, artisans,etc being supportive of either upgrading the gallery to retain the Field Collection or development of the gallery as the district’s gallery. The Paraparaumu/Raumati and Otaki community boards have made contributions but these are political gestures of support rather than signals of support from their respective creative communities,” he says.
“One councillor even said that the majority of people in Waikanae would not know what the Field Collection was. Another councillor questioned whether the collection was of national importance or important only to Kapiti because of local historical interest,” says Cr Gurunathan.
“The Trust was urged to seek the support of the district’s creative community to fund the upgrade and not depend on the general ratepayers,” he says.
“I am glad, however, that the background material presented in the statement says that council and the Gallery has signed an MOU to work together with the objective of Mahara becoming “the District Gallery for Kapiti.
“The statement suggests, I believe in error, that the desired acknowledgement is yet to be achieved.”
Challenges facing Waikanae CBD
Cr Gurunathan also says that continuing support for the location of a district gallery in Waikanae has to also accept the challenges facing Waikanae’s CBD.
He says: “This includes the closing of Mitre 10 and the possible closing of Bunnings if the new Bunnings in Paraparaumu is given resource consent. As with the previous Western Link Road project, and now the Expressway, consultants have pointed out the real potential of a retail business leak from Waikanae to Paraparaumu.
“The post-expressway shape of the Waikanae CBD is not known. Waikanae Community Board’s offer of a $250,000 investment in the Gallery upgrade is a clear signal that that community wants the Gallery upgrade and wants to keep it located in Waikanae.
“There is good reason to support the Board’s commitment for the same reason that the upgrading of Paraparaumu’s CBD (Aquacentre & Civic Building) would reduce the impact of the Expressway sucking up to 26 percent of its retail out of the district to Porirua and beyond.
“Public support for this, however, needs to be done with full knowledge of the positives and negatives. This cannot be achieved by council statements to ratepayers that do not disclose the full concerns.”