Column by Ian Powell
Kāpiti Coast District Council has made the right decision in discontinuing the controversial Gateway project. The reasons for the need to do this have been canvassed extensively in KC News and elsewhere.
Congratulations to Councillor Liz Koh for advocating the successful resolution, to the whole Council for unanimously supporting it, and to Council staff for providing updated financial information. This bodes well for future Council decision-making. I was brought up on the iconic LV Martin ad, it’s the putting right that counts.
It is important to differentiate, however, between the aspirations behind the project and the means for achieving them. The first were good while unfortunately the second wasn’t. That does not mean that the aspirations should be lost sight of.
One aspiration was providing biosecurity protection at Paraparaumu Beach for Kāpiti Island. This is an important now as it was when Gateway was first proposed. It is even more important if a tourism strategy linked to economic development leads to more people wanting to visit the island.
As a priority Council needs to be discussing as a matter of priority with the Department of Conversation, iwi and hapu, and the charter boats, the installation of biosecurity protection, including how it is funded.
Another good aspiration, although less immediately tangible, was enhancing the recognition of the Coast’s rich Māori culture and history. Māori may only comprise around 15% of our population but its cultural and history well exceeds this.
To put it bluntly, the Kāpiti Coast would not be the Kāpiti Coast without the huge contribution of Māori culture and history. At the most basic level, every town and village have Māori names, each with their own histories. Without having any confirming data I’m confident that much more than 15% of the Coast’s street and road names have Māori names.
In the over 40 years I have lived on the Coast I’ve had two homes. The first was Aperahama St in Paekākāriki for over 30 years.
Aperahama Taonui was a visionary Māori leader in the upper Hokianga in the 19th century. He is believed to have been a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi. Further, he was a founder of the Kotahitanga movement which evolved into the Māori parliaments of the 1890s.
Paekākāriki has its own distinct meaning. Pae can mean ‘perch’. Kākāriki is a ‘parakeet’ which, in turn, is a small parrot with a predominantly green plumage and a long tail. Hence the expression a green parrot on a perch.
I now live in Ruru Rd in Otaihanga. In Māori tradition, the Ruru was known as a watchful guardian. As a bird of the night, it was associated with the spirit world. Its high, piercing call signified bad news, such as a death, but the more common ‘Ruru’ call signalled good news. So I now know that I live in a street shaped by highly audible alertness.
Otaihanga with its proximity to the Waikanae estuary means ‘the place made by the tide’. I was so taken by this that I incorporated it into my health systems blog – Otaihanga Second Opinion.
In exploring how KCDC might give better celebratory recognition of this rich history it should not be misrepresented as a backdoor attempt to resurrect Gateway. Apart from being corrosive, the reason for saying this is that simply would not be true.