Kapiti Economic Development Association KEDA

Rosalind Derby – Districtwide

Rosalind Derby – Districtwide

I think ‘opportunities’ is a loaded, potentially biased word.  It is all relevant to any specific demographic, social and environmental thinking group, business or family concerns, permanent resident or holidaymaker. It doesn’t demand one answer from a single one councillor. I think we should start talking from the position that, ultimately, most of us want the same thing, well-being, inspiration, sense of openness to be able to do what you really want commercially or socially or personally or environmentally.  But what this question throws up is an invitation to fight each other based on perceived differences.  I am sure everyone will get this over the open debates in the course of this campaign.

HOWEVER, threats there are many, and they are deeply concerning.

  • Incompetence at governance level: another ‘loaded’ word which can limit any constructive comment, as individuals feel immediately offended and shut down rather than offering opportunities to move forward.
  • However, I think a perceived concept that we are ‘not good enough’ within this Council. …’it’s only the Kapiti Coast, we are insignificant, if we were any good we would be in Wellington or international’… this creates the current threat of bureaucratic, box ticking, template style documentation as a risk averse culture, protecting us from ourselves and each other and a closed down governance
  • Which in turn generates incredibly draining, time wasting, ongoing critique from the public and the business community, when ultimately we are all in this together. Which suggests a vision of KCDC as a ‘public service’ responding and collaborating with residents, the local and national business community and other council governance bodies across the country. ‘Kapiti is the worst local council in the country to deal with ’ …is a comment that we can definitely do without and have to fully overcome.

2:           ‘Economics’ is another incredibly loaded word: essentially blocking out any people who feel they don’t understand the culture or belong in that group, thus do not participate in the  conversation. This generates a permeating sense of distrust across the whole sector, including both business groups and private groups or individuals. If people don’t trust business styles different from their own values how are they going to participate strongly in the ‘growing economy’ (whatever that means) or feel empowered that it represents their interests.

This is what has to come first, a sense of ‘inclusiveness’. Not the knowledge that you are a business person or ‘type’ and I am not.  What I envisage is an open, progressive culture where all kinds of individuals or groups feel they can be in business doing whatever is important to them or they believe is important to the community.  Then we have a growing, informed, confident diverse ‘economic’ community, representative of the best interests of Kapiti across an unlimited range of layers of expected or preferred income and lifestyle.

Then the business community really does have something to offer Kapiti as a ‘brand’, an urban, coastal, rural, industrial, commercial, mountains to the sea experience, if you like Which equally includes, those ‘consumers’, feeling positive that they are participating in vibrant and meaningful growth by ‘buying’, ‘visiting’ or generally joining in and turning up to whatever places and events that really interest them.

3:           What a stupid question.

What are we here for if it doesn’t have the infrastructure?  Look around at what we already have and make the most of it.

Currently, and this is why I am standing for Council, there are huge blinkers to what to do with the potential with what is already here.  This is where ‘design’ comes in and what I am standing for.

Who knows what talent and skill and practical knowledge is out there, locally, within our own community?

‘Do we have the infrastructure?’…is a statement that ultimately frightens people.  Infrastructure is something that someone else can do, ‘not me’.  So who is responsible for it? The Council? KCDC? I can assure you they don’t feel they have the responsibility or the confidence to do it.
THIS is why we are so exhausted and frustrated by the dysfunction of KCDC hiring out nameless national / and international ‘consultants’ to do it for us!

We are fatigued, chronically, from Council sponsored consultants who have come numerously over the last 20 years to tell the council what to do, with their hands open.  Most, if not all, of these reports, workshops, masterplans have come to nothing.  If you are talking ‘economy’, anyone can be shaken to their boots, in just attempting to consider the financial loss that this represents.

It is all based on a fundamental attitude that we don’t know what to do.  We elect and KCDC employs, uninspired, uninformed functionaries who promote a sense of strength, disguising inconfidence as arrogance, to the locals they represent, by arranging contracts with large, multi-staffed corporate consultants, who operate anywhere around the country.

Until Council (councillors, management and staff) and business learn to work together, Kapiti will be dependant and vulnerable. Living in that not knowing, if ever anything will ever work out for the best outcome. As we now know, with this attitude, it doesn’t and it hasn’t, and most public spaces, street fronts, recent roading systems, retail developments could be precisely described as ‘dogs’.

THIS IS NOT US!   We are clever, smart people. We KNOW stuff!  Why are we all so complicit in this resulting built outcome, which is mediocre at best, criminally negligent at worst?

I’ve actually ‘thought’ it myself, momentarily, in the recent month and I have heard it repeated by some, in desperation…’well at least it’s better than nothing’…the fiasco that is Mahara Place town centre $1M spend.  That’s us for the next 50 years, that’s your spend, take it or leave it.  No informed, round table post-assessment as to whether this was an adequate spend of public money, or whether it represented the now well understood, principles of contemporary urban design.

Stop frightening us with the ‘bogey of infrastructure’ into the future.  The future is us and it’s now and it’s happening in our own time.  It is what we want Kapiti to be and why we want to be here. We can decide how it is going to grow, from our own sense of understanding.

As a Candidate and if things go well, as a Councillor, my first approach is to reignite confidence within the community, that we can solve our own problems, that we can overcome our internal council lethargy and turn things around as an imaginative, willing group of public staff to take on leadership and operate with respect for the skills of others.  That we can ask the ‘big’ questions if we need to and when we need to.  We can have the confidence to get the results we really want, and the maturity to undertake a job that is to act for all of the people all of the time.

3 (b)      One of the ‘key priorities’ of infrastructure development is ultimately to employ designers within council to act equally in direct design leadership and also as informed advocates. Advocates with a capacity for galvanising the community into responsible, contemporary design thinking in a practical act of getting things done appropriately, efficiently with least waste and maximum opportunity.

That is what design is, and the fact that council has categorically denied the need to have an architectural or urban design department within the organisation, for the last two decades, is ‘uneconomic’, if you want to stress the use of that term.

It has been said ‘we have a landscape architect’… we’re done.  The fact that one such, (obviously skilled) staff member is tasked with the problem, indicates the lack of respect, or ability to understand, the scope of the task and the initiative to approach the professionals skilled in solving it.

OK: an example of a ‘key priority’ in housing infrastructure, for a simple start:

Compulsory acquisition of the retail blocks around Mahara Place, particularly the lane from SH1. In public and private partnership, design and build a mixed-use housing / apartment; business start-up office open space; child and elderly community spaces; café; landscape; tieried (basement?) carparking; communal co-housing; ‘experience retail’ as a built urban precinct.

For council to turn its back on what it’s got from Paekakariki to Peka Peka, for starters, and come up with an ‘infrastructure’ notion, to build a whole new town centre at Te Horo, is criminal negligence.

We have massive brownfield space underused here, which could be developed for mixed-use medium density housing / commercial.

We have huge wide, suburban streets with grass berms, fronting large front lawns (denuded of trees in the ‘tidy up’ school of kiwi landscaping) that would house a whole urban community in Tokyo in one street.

Council wants to build a whole new Town Centre in beautiful, non-commercial Te Horo? Based on the recent three, dismal, ‘town centre’ built outcomes in Coastlands and Mahara Place, how is this madcap scheme going to work?

Where is the ‘accountable economy’ in land-grabbing the one place on the Kapiti Coast,  that attracts select property buyers, precisely because of its absolute lack of a beach shop?  Te Horo is renowned locally and, in fact internationally, as a prestige and boutique rural food destination.  Do the functionaries (bless their cotton socks) at council, think because it is cool, and financially successful and aesthetically acceptable that they can gild the lily and impose a new town centre there, and that they can get away with it?

We need to go public now on this, and stress the importance of dealing with the quite solvable problems in our own backyard, before taking up greenfield space in a nationally regarded, boutique food growing area.

Hobsonville new town is not the great, white hope that should be transplanted down here.

Do we want to copy the Auckland economic model of a dog of a city, turning around and building a perfect, alternative rendition for the exclusive, informed few, across the waters? This while ignorant of those, just across in the next paddock, in the state house precinct of Ranui, where you can drive through street after street without finding even a dairy, let alone a school or community centre.

Parapaparaumu, Kapiti, the upper coast, can and must be a world leading example of appropriate ‘economic’ development at a relevant, inclusive, diverse socio-economic demographic. All residents contributing to the empowered sense of identity of protecting our unique geographic mountains to the sea environment of rivers, estuary, dune, rural, and bush, within a truly contemporary understanding of appropriate urban growth.

3 (c)       Talking of ‘Transmission Gully’ spin-off fears, if you want an immediate and real concept of infrastructure activity, initiated on the ground, locally, I was speaking to a member of the Paekakariki Housing Trust today at the Candidates meeting.  They have begun taking responsibility for a left over parcel of land, at the Paek end of the roading infrastructure project. Their initiative, generated by local housing concerns, sees this left over parcel with 28 hectares of land suitable for housing, the rest being wetlands and bush etc, considered as a mixed use development, with low-cost community housing potential.  That is how to handle the abstract art of ‘infrastructure’.  Who are we? What do we want? How are we going to achieve it in contract with local government?  So infrastructure is a tool, managed with experience but with local control. It can only be an evolving thing within a confident and informed ownership of the diverse localities up and down the Coast. Starting with where we are now…how can change improve current disadvantages and open up opportunities for modernism and efficiency, but at a local level?  Not a one size fits all, think-big, one-off solution. People want to come or buy into a place with local identity.
What has major infrastructure done for the Hutt Valley? Turned it into an impersonal transport artery, providing very little serves to either the string of townships along the river or even those passing through.

7:           Kapiti Community Centre: This is an essential building with a very important institutional memory.  It arrived successfully from a creative and remarkable advocacy movement by Shirley Sowry, the wife of a local politician. The building speaks to community in its domestic form, but also initiated a beautiful, built response to its surrounding grassy paddock environment. It is unique in this, in that seems it could only be ‘of Kapiti’: the first, modern move into the unbuilt wetlands around the council precinct. Within the organisation, Community Co-ordinator Pat ran it with a dignified balance of both authority and inclusion. It worked. Recent mismanaged, politically geared administrative change, very quickly dismantled local trust in the place.  The first action was to spend $70K + of ratepayers’ money on superficial interior and exterior design work. This ‘trendy’ style, downgraded the building’s value immediately, with the uninformed, black exterior window trim having no reference to its 70’s style provenance (even though it was designed and built in the 90’s!)

This piece of architectural theory, is in introduction to a claim to think beyond the toxic mould publicity, and value the building as bricks and mortar, within community memory and place.   Sufficient value to get behind a revamp and resuscitation of its value, with invested community involvement.


8:           Kapiti ‘Gateway’ Concept: Ironically, in this case, the ‘institutional memory’ of the boat club and commercial fishing interests, have more sway, in terms of KCDC report planning, than the more far-reaching aspirations of skilled architecture students, led by the skilled and impassioned academic, Sam Kebbell.  The plans, the students very recently developed for both the surrounding precinct and the ‘tower’ form building itself, should be taken back off the shelf and re-examined. How ‘Open for Business’ is the mothballing of an entire thought programme, to be exchanged with a new, uninformed, commercial idea?  Typically, the administration justifies the worth of this action, by the commissioning of another extensive report from a whole new raft of national and international specialists. How does this compensate for the loss of economic and cultural confidence, which would clearly be generated by this student / local creative / local business think tank and actual build process?

This confuses public enthusiasm consistently, ensuring another longwinded, consultation process, which if it goes anywhere, has an inherent, laissez-faire mandate which will surely overlook very many opportunities for design, that are uniquely local.

9:           Kapiti Swimming Pool:   whaaat? Is this even a question? I thought that was a shoo-in for the Guardians of Kapiti Marine Reserve building programme. Deal with it KCDC. … as a public / private partnership.

10:         This is complex: this is nature, it has its own laws and lessons to teach us.  I am not a scientist.

Some years ago, as member of the Friends of QEP Park, Nikki la Monica, our ranger, described to us the process. Fix failing sand dunes along one stretch and the effects compromise another stretch further down the beach.  The contemporary approach was to do nothing. Leave nature to its own changing patterns.

With all the legal drama about coastal erosion affecting beachfront properties along Manly Street and Waikanae…on recent viewing, the dunes have extended hugely with growing distance between boundary and fore-dune line.  Being no scientist, I have only the opinion that we cannot control sea changes, that are random from year to year.

Our better role is stand in awe and wonder and learn the lessons of nature as they are offered up to us.

However definitely protect dune, wetland, estuary and riverfront.

This too is incredibly complex.  Since Doc, in its sincerest of management policies, took control of the south side of Waikanae estuary, magnificent boardwalk included, I now experience, little but 2.0m high gorse and lupin.  That, which a few years ago was an incredibly special and soulful wetland marine environment; with Doc management done, dusted and return maintenance forgotten, these, originally quite inaccessible native grasses, have been throttled with rampant, exotic weeds.

Scroll to Top