Commies love concrete.” –travel writer Bill Bryson (in reference to Eastern Europe)

From the amount of it that has been poured in Waikanae over the last year, it’s apparent that the KCDC loves it, too.

Although the Commies may have loved concrete, they were less enthusiastic about maintaining it — decaying buildings, walls and paving were an ubiquitous sight there (aging paving stones at odd angles were also a significant pedestrian safety hazard).  Fortunately, the KCDC will respond to requests for repairs.

But the issue of whether it is an appealing material in the first place arises. There are ways in which its appearance can be improved, including staining, painting, patterns, friezes, embedded glitter, decorative stones, glow in the dark chips, tiles, and mosaics.

The quadrangle in Mahara Place following the makeover has plenty of concrete.  And it has a reasonable amount of artificial grass. It also has some new seats (which are OK to sit on, although not really as comfortable as the existing seats), large planter boxes (made of concrete) and smallish areas that can best be described as mini stages.  The sculpture garden and the children’s playground on the south side of it are unchanged.

The quadrangle now features a scrawny Nikau palm and a puny Puriri tree which are a lot smaller than the Phoenix palms that were removed. But in the longer term they will grow to a reasonable size.

There are a lot of suggestions that were made by readers of the Destination Waikanae FB page, some of which were heeded, and others of which were ignored.  You can see a selection of these in this post from September 2017.  There have been a few others that we won’t repeat.

Comment by Margaret Stevenson-Wright

In my view the redevelopment of Mahara Place has delivered an expensive [$1.06 million] and lacklustre tiny theme park.

We may not have a Hundertwasser toilet, but we assuredly have ‘artisan power’ on the Coast that should have had a leading role in this redevelopment.

My questions in terms of the scope of any ‘consultation’ it had are the degree to which the:

  • Development process included a process evaluation for safe design
  • Local artisans whose talents could have made this a space that embedded local pride and attracted out Kapiti visitors.

The council indicated some sort of celebration might be organised now that everything that was intended has now been done.  The Spring Market next month, however, will be a good test of popular appeal.