Council has today approved a remediation approach for Wairaka Centennial Park following a positive consultation process with tangata whenua, Wairaka Marae Whānau, local boating representatives and the wider community.

Since opening in December 2017, the playground and surrounding green spaces have been enjoyed by many, however the access steps to Whakatāne River have received some criticism.

General Manager Community Experience, Georgina Fletcher, says Council has listened to the concerns of our communities’ and is pleased work is now progressing to improve the existing situation in terms of access, safety, cultural outcomes, environmental outcomes, and usability. 

“We’re thrilled to have worked closely with our communities to ensure the space is fit for purpose and meets the cultural and amenity values while having a strong focus on improved safety access to the awa for those wanting to gather kai, to play, or to sit and enjoy the view.”

Georgina says the improved design approved today will be completed in two phases to allow for works on the steps to commence as soon as possible, with both phases being completed within existing Council budgets.

Phase one includes the removal of all intermediate steps and handrails from the existing concrete terraces on the southern side of the river access area, removal of the perimeter wall of the river access area to below sand level and the installation of wider concrete terraces with a lower gradient. Intermediate steps will then be added between the terraces along with handrails.

Phase two will see construction of a new ramp from the existing boardwalk through to the river access area at the base of the new steps, with handrails placed either side.

In addition to this, natural sand accretion processes have already been reinstated in the area which was previously used as a ‘tidal pool’ and has eliminated the issue of stagnating water.

Georgina continues, “We appreciate this has taken time, but it has been vital to get the improvements right in collaboration with the reference group who helped guide necessary changes.”

“While the steps in particular had a false start, with the design changes now progressing we’re really looking forward to seeing our locals and manuhiri / visitors make memories in the area and be able to access the awa / river safely.”

The improvements are a direct result of guiding themes established from a community consultation hui:

·        Te Mana o te Wai

·        Connectivity to the water

·        Water play and access

·        Maintain access to the water area

·        Preserve a natural state of the area

·        Cultural input with new appropriate signage

·        Access to Himoki rock.