Creating a vibrant heart for Waikane and a catalyst for further change
The long-term vision for Waikanae town centre is guided by a masterplan that seeks to enhance a focus on arts and culture, and ensure that the needs and aspirations of residents are met.
The historic village connection with the Whakarongotai Marae will be reflected in the development of a ‘cultural thread’ running through the town centre.
Situated in the heart of the town, and comprising a laneway and an open square, Mahara Place had been internally focused and poorly connected, both physically and visually. Linking Mahara Place with Ngaio Road, SH1/Main Road and Whakarongotai Marae was essential to improving its function as a vibrant public space.
The project team was initially challenged by budgetary constraints, a wide variety of opinions on what should happen in Mahara Place, some resistance to change, and a lack of community buy-in due to a history of unbuilt projects.
The project first sought to change how the community perceived Mahara place and re-establish it as the place where town centre and community activities could take place, providing places for people to stop, rest and enjoy their town centre.
The Mahara Place upgrade was split into two phases; Phase One is now complete and Phase Two, the Mahara Place laneway, is currently being designed.
A significant element of Phase One was developing and undertaking a robust community engagement process. This included:
· Two rounds of community open days
· Establishment of the Mahara Place Development Committee, made up of community and business representatives
· Communication with and presentation to the Waikanae Community Board
· Development of a robust communication strategy to keep the community and local businesses well-informed
· Creation of presentation and communication tools, including 3D fly-throughs and virtual reality simulations
· Formation of the Kapiti Town Centres working group to ensure that Iwi were at the table and able to contribute meaningfully in all phases of the project.
Early contractor involvement with the project team allowed for the design, budget, construction methodology and procurement to be tested and agreed-to early, which was a key factor in the successful completion of Phase One.
Mahara Place now provides a sense of place that people can strongly associate with and feel part of. Improved pedestrian access and better connections to the railway station will make it a vibrant, inclusive, well-connected destination that supports town centre businesses
Design lead for Landscape and Urban Design; Facilitator for Community Engagement with the Mahara Place Development Committee