A total of 28 came and pretty much filled the room in the Waikanae Chartered Club to capacity.  Unlike last year, local ward councilor Michael Scott attended as did WCB chairer Jocelyn Prvanov.  Also there were Cr Mike Cardiff (who lives in Waikanae) and Cr James Cootes of Otaki (who owns a business in Mahara Place).

The impact of the ‘Ewy’ on Town Centre businesses has been on people’s minds for a while now, and since February the predictions have been able to be compared to actual experiences.

We asked one of the businesses who we expected would be affected, the Subway franchise, how things have been for them.  They said that weekend trade has definitely been down, but not much during weekdays.  They’re confident, however, that with all the new housing subdivisions and the consequent expanding market, that the future is good.

Messages from other businesses are a mixed bag; one speaker on Thursday night said that New World’s turnover is down.  This doesn’t surprise, as a lot of custom from those west of the ‘Ewy’ in the beach zone has probably gone to the New World close to the on/off-ramps in Paraparaumu.   The same is probably true for Countdown customers from the beach zone.  But if one of them went, the other should then have enough customers to be OK.

What Countdown intends to do is still unknown and significant proposals for Mahara Place depend on it.  Its departure would mean a big new space for either the library or the Mahara Gallery.  Otherwise, plans involve the existing buildings.

Irrespective of what is done about the buildings (Mike Cardiff thinks the ideal would be to put a bulldozer through the lot of them and create a whole new precinct, but of course that won’t happen), with the council-owned open areas there are things that can be done and below is a list of ideas that folks have put in the DW Facebook page about that.

Other topics included the need to create a marketing ‘brand’ — this doesn’t necessarily mean a logo and slogan and advertising, rather a message about what Waikanae has that makes it special and which can spread inexpensively on social media.

Norma McCallum said that very little publicity was given to the town’s award from Keep New Zealand Beautiful for the most beautiful town in 2015.  It’s not even mentioned at the road entrances.

Others felt that beautiful nature is a draw-card, with the River Estuary, the river bank walks, the Nga Manu sanctuary and Hemi Matenga Reserve.

Other topics included what the KCDC intended to do with the Main Road (whatever it’s going to be called).  Mike Cardiff said he is concerned about the council consultants’ plans to reduce the four road lanes to two around the railway station and the level crossing so to create completely unnecessary cycle lanes — we definitely need the existing four road lanes to prevent traffic congestion.


Destination Waikanae asked for ideas that can add sparkle to Mahara Place without costing much.   They want small achievable steps as quickly as possible and will be happy to receive more ideas.plant wall

  • What does the ‘cultural thread’ entail?  Does it do anything to revitalise the square?
  • Revoke Road Designation/look at “compliance” barriers that make it illegal to have café seating across the square.  With shared walkways across the square winding past these tables and umbrellas.
  • Comfy seating with backs, not just the concrete edges and the wooden edges of the planters
  • Different planting –- vegetables, perennials (others love the annuals)
  • Remove the time-expired, 30-year-old planters and replace with smaller stonework planters and seating.  Important to have an attractive alternative for when the community is asked what they think
  • If the 30-year-old planters have to stay for a while, working bee to waterblast, repair and paint them
  • Alfresco dining, being allowed to drink wine outside in the summer
  • Ice cream parlour
  • Food trucks in the evenings (younger people wanted this and music -– but hard on takeaways on main road unless the food trucks were on the main road too and drew people into Waikanae)
  • Open late night with better lighting in the square
  • Live music in the evenings [in weekday lunch periods too]
  • Jazz pouring out of Access Radio’s window during the day
  • More positions for buskers around the square [their quality is important though]
  • Outdoor movie screen
  • Ways to bring people together like boules, chessboard, petanque
  • Allow dogs on leads (possibly except for playground)
  • Sun protection over the playground
  • Rain protection over playground
  • Canopies from Hartham Place?
  • Wind breaks – trellises with living walls? (With help and advice from Gus Evans and Menzshed)
  • A better playground.  Fenced.  Unfenced.
  • No smoking around playground
  • Grass areas/astroturf [fake grass] – seating on grass
  • Community Hub in the “returned books” corner of the library
  • Seating and tables and rubbish bin in “returned books” corner of the library especially for the young people who hang around in the afternoons
  • Coloured lights in the trees and nikaus
  • Piano in “returned books” corner of the library
  • Colourful hop scotch, snakes and ladders on the pavers for children, a maze
  • Pop up shops/stalls outside the empty shops
  • Some sort of rates penalty for empty shops [this particularly relates to three notoriously long-term empty shops owned by a Hong Kong investor who doesn’t want to lease them]
  • Free standing locked notice board in the square for  children’s art
  • Directional arrows (bit like at bottom of the South Island) pointing to the different businesses, including those on the main road
  • More murals
  • Murals on Mahara gallery/toilet block DW to help fund/find artists/etc — any work on the gallery is still 2,3,4> years away.  Murals are finite by nature so creating one quickly would add vibrancy to this part of Mahara Place for the time before redevelopment.direction signs