Kapiti Economic Development Association KEDA

K (Guru) Gurunathan – Mayor

K (Guru) Gurunathan – Mayor

What do you consider to be the biggest opportunities and threats facing Kapiti over the next five to ten years?

The opportunities are : the growth stimulated by the roading infrastructure linking Kapiti to Wellington. The attraction of Kapiti’s resilience to government agencies in Wellington shaken by recent earthquakes as indicated by the choice to establish the Police Call Centre in Paraparaumu. The government’s need to fulfil its political promise to build more houses especially social and affordable housing. An opportunity to reverse the flow of people seeking the arts by a shorter travel connection from Wellington to Kapiti to patronise the regional and national events at the new Kapiti Performing Arts Centre. The ability to show case Kapiti events like the Arts Trail to a wider Wellington audience 

The threats are: the lack of processing capacity and non-silo thinking within council’s consents and building departments. Naturals tendency towards bureaucratic interpretation by council staff. On the other hand there is a lack of understanding by sectors of the development and business community about the legislative constraints council staff have to work within like the ponderous RMA and Building Act.

The inability, so far, for the big players in Paraparaumu to set aside the intra-commercial rivalry to work together to sell the district to regional and national interest. The lack of interaction or cross fertilisation to seek opportunities between Maori business interest and Pakeha business interest or for the matter the ethnic business sector. A lack of understanding that our environment is an economic asset that our reserves, open spaces, beaches, wetlands and waterways make us an attractive lifestyle choice. Development should not compromise this.

Economic growth has benefits for everyone living in the district. Kapiti needs a sound economic development strategy. How would you go about ensuring the strategy is developed and implemented and who should be involved?

Although delayed, the economic development strategy refresh is already underway. The key players in the working party include the Chamber of Commerce, KEDA, KCDC and Wellington NZ (WREDA), Manaaki Kapiti. Firstly, the business community needs to be able to provide feedback to ensure confidence. Council has had two report backs identifying concerns over governance model, implementation, lack of a detailed plan and communication issues over transparency. I don’t see the need to change the parties already involved except to reiterate the point of a lack of engagement with those involved with the Maori economic development strategy. Especially in the area of housing opportunities. I agree with the idea that the working group which is representative of the key players should become the Advisory Group to help implement the strategy. It’s positive performance could lead to a transition from an advisory towards a more independent agency. 

Will Kapiti have the infrastructure needed to support projected population growth? If not, what are the key priorities for infrastructure development?

Recent data shows that there is adequate capacity for new residential housing over the short to medium term but shortages are signaled for the longer term. The current district plan indicates the potential for over 26,000 dwellings but with the commercially “realisable” number to be just over 6,000. Just  over half are in brownfield areas or infill areas already serviced by existing infrastructure. The other half are green field development which will require some infrastructure but these are potential lots largely within or close to the urban boundaries. In terms of Kapiti’s main CBD in Paraparaumu the development potential (both commercial and residential) can be unleashed once the connecting road is build from the Kapiti/Arawhata roads to link with Ihakara St. Reticulated water supply has the capacity to service this increase and council is upgrading the Paraparumu treatment plant. 

Council has a goal of being “Open for Business”. What does this term mean to you and what can Council do to ensure it achieves this goal?

The problem for council is twofold. Firstly, council’s core business is its regulatory function including interpreting the RMA, Building Act,the Food Act…etc. So essentially council cannot easily step out of this functional role. Council’s problem is that businesses want council to expedite their business without understanding the constraints council operates under. Council’s second problem is its natural tendency towards a conservative interpretation. What is needed is for council to be more liberal in its interpretation while at the same time helping businesses get more familiar with how Council business works. I have also requested that in large projects council appoint a point-person responsible for guiding the applicant through all the different silos. 

Does Council have a role to encourage businesses to relocate or establish here? If so, what kind of support should Council offer?

Councils should be encouraged to compete with each other. KCDC should have a ready-made promotional package that is used to attract outside businesses to set up in Kapiti. Developers and landowners have a role in contributing to this promotional package.

How Important is it to tell the “Kapiti Story” and how would you go about supporting a project to do this?

Telling the Kapiti Story is about branding our uniqueness. It’s important to preserve our natural environment with Kapiti Island being the symbolic core of our district identity. One project to do this is to look at the number of economic ideas that burst out from our business community when it was announced that Kapiti was eligible for the PGF funding. I captured that with the Chinese notion “Let a thousand flowers bloom”. My Kapiti Story project would see me look through all these ideas and pick those that show promise. It may not be PGF material but it, with a little support, could showcase what Kapiti is all about.

The future of the well-patronised Kapiti Community Centre is in doubt due to the discovery of leaks and mould in the building. Do you believe Kapiti needs a Community Centre? If so, what needs to happen to ensure we have one?

Its  matter of time before the building will have to be either significantly upgraded or demolished. Once the financials and a timeline are worked out I expect councillors will opt for demolition to make way for a new concept. Before that happens the community and the stakeholder groups will be consulted to help shape the needs and the type of facility they want.

There has been much debate over the proposed Kapiti Gateway project. There are varying views on the need for a Gateway, the proposed cost and the proposed location. How would you work towards a solution that is acceptable to the various stakeholders, including Council, the community, retailers, visitors and affected parties?

The Kapiti Gateway is a key project in our initial expression of interest to apply for PGF funding. Any such Gateway project will need to satisfy the needs of the existing stakeholders, the Coastguard, the Kapiti Boating Club, and the Kapiti Underwater Club. This will be a design solution that needs to also look at the possibility of developing a bio-security facility for visitors going to the Island. DoC needs to be involved not only as an advisor but also as potential funder. This link to the Island is what will give it the gateway status. Separate but parallel to the consultation with these groups will be the very important iwi partners, Ngati Toa and Te Atiawa Ki Whakarongotai. We need to find out how mana whenua will want to shape this building. A needs assessment of all the players and the purposes and functions of stakeholders is needed.

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