As first reported online on July 25, Government Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announced three local community projects set to receive a financial investment from the governments Provincial Growth Fund [PGF] ‘shovel-ready projects’, totalling $3.75 million.
At a late morning event held in the scenic outdoor area of the Mangawhai Tavern, Jones made the declaration to the gathered crowd which included Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith, Northern MP Matt King, Kaipara District Council CEO Louise Miller, councillors and staff, as well as members of community groups and curious Tavern Market shoppers.
After Smith welcomed everyone, Jones took to the stage saying it was his ‘privileged position’ on behalf of the government to declare the PGF grants.
Mangawhai wharf rebuild
Shane Jones began by announcing a $600,000 gift to Mangawhai Historic Wharf Trust [MHWT] to help the group rebuild an exact replica of the 1880 original wharf with an added feature of a floating concrete pontoon. MHWT had described the idea to the MP two years ago at Otamatea Marae, and Jones acknowledged the Trust’s vision.
“When the sun is shining on a full tide and the people are happy in the market, you can imagine how a robust jetty will rekindle the memories of early Mangawhai, when there were very few roads and scows would come over the bar, up the harbour to disgorge goods, luggage and passengers at the wharf,” he says. “The government is dedicating capital to jetty’s and wharves to ensure our coastal environment remains accessible and enjoyable… for boaties and the young and old alike, so we are not locked out of our marine playground… and it’s not just for people who have wealth and can afford to live right next to the beach.”
MHWT chair, Colin Leach, thanked the minister and his team for turning ‘our dream into a reality’.
“Fantastic… this means post-consent we can immediately start planning construction instead of spending time trying to raise cash in difficult financial circumstances, gives us a huge head start,” he says. “I’d like to also publicly recognise the tremendous community support we’ve had for this project, exemplified by our PledgeMe fundraising campaign we held last year which raised $80,000 for our resource consent costs… shows people really do want this wharf… I believe it will be a fantastic focal point for our growing community.“
Molesworth Drive walkway
A large chunk of $2.4m will be contributed towards ‘a particular item of some frustration and irritation’ Jones says: Turning Molesworth Drive’s treacherous ‘goat track’ into a safe pathway for all users.
“Young mothers with prams struggle, people my age wanting to walk and others are all finding the infrastructure needs to be upgraded,” he says. “Your local ward member Peter Wethey and your mayor reached out to me when Covid-19 was at its worst… asking how some of the funding would be secured for the Kaipara area. Our government wants to work collaboratively with the council… to fix up that footpath.”
Mangawhai Community Advisory Panel chair Belinda Vernon says the Molesworth Drive footpath has been ‘the one consistent message we received’ from the community.
“It’s great the message has now been heard… it will make a huge difference for all,” she says. “Thank you council for hearing our call, and thank you minister for making it happen… we will all be thrilled to see the back end of that goat track.”
Kaiwaka foot bridges
Kaiwaka township also received $750,000 for much-needed footbridges, a necessity ‘pointed out to him’ by Mangawhai/Kaiwaka ward councillor Jonathan Larsen.
“I want to acknowledge Jonathan and the mayor for reminding me that little places like Kaiwaka must not be overlooked,” he says. “Kaiwaka is an area of huge significance… the site of the most decisive and destructive battle which took part in this part of New Zealand prior to the Treaty of Waitangi… where the undisputed warrior leader Hongi Hika confronted the Ngati Whatua who were defeated and left this land forever… such stories should not be forgotten.”
Kaiwaka Can’s Derek Christenson says members of the community action group were ‘absolutely delighted’ after working for so long to make Kaiwaka safe and accessible, and acknowledged councillor Jonathan Larsen, who received a round of applause, for ‘hearing our dreams and having the knack for making them happen’.
“The town is the entrance to the north… with so much traffic, it is one long raceway… if you really want to experience danger try getting from the east of Kaiwaka to the west,” he says. “The east and west footbridges are designed to link up without crossing the road… and to link with a cycle way. Thank you to minister Jones and to council for keeping Kaiwaka on the radar.”
In closing the ceremony, Smith also thanked Jones on behalf of the community, saying the funding for the projects represented three critical aspects, ‘safety, access and hope’.
“These extraordinary community-led projects are going to make the community safer, provide better access to core facilities and generate hope within our community,” he says. “Those three things are critically important for us at this crucial time… this is the best way Kaipara district rises strong.”