Archive for October, 2008

Corners of Waimakariri – Rangiora’s Matawai Park

29 October 2008

Matawai Park is a much-appreciated asset to the southern part of Rangiora.  Located between King, William and Percival Streets, it was previously waste land, piled with spoil from the excavations produced by the reconstruction of Percival Street.

About thirty years ago, former Borough Councillor Dudley Franklin had the vision and energy to get this park started.

What we find now is a microcosm of Canterbury’s flora from the mountains to the sea, with plant communities including tussock grassland, beech forest, wetlands, podocarp forests and coastal communities.  Logically, the mountain communities are at the western, King Street, entrance and the lowland and coastal communities at the Percival Street end.

It has multiple entrances so it is is easy to pass through it in the course of a walk and the Matawai Park Advisory Group has worked with the Council to provide information boards, picnic tables and a barbecue.

What Could the Council be Planning For?

28 October 2008

Further to yesterday’s posting, what major work could the council be planning for over the ten years 2009-2019?

How’s this list for a start? (Just brain-storming – no discussion has gone into this at all!)

  • Making the old Waimakariri Bridge near Kaiapoi and the Ashley Bridge at Rangiora safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • A new water supply for Summerhill (still not guaranteed).
  • A new exit road from Rangiora to Lineside Road that will bypass the congested Southbrook Road.
  • Revitalised town centres for Kaiapoi and Rangiora.
  • A performance venue in Kaiapoi.
  • An upgraded Rangiora Town Hall (we’ve been waiting for 25 years).


The Financial Meltdown and Your Council

27 October 2008

There seems little doubt that the Meltdown is going to affect us here in Waimakriri.  Before it happened, building consents were already way down, as were subdivisions.  While some would see that as a blessing, giving the District a chance to take a breath, it does mean that the absence of the “growth factor” will result in some capital costs sitting that much heavier on current ratepayers.

The market Meltdown will only make that situation more marked.

As the Council enters its LTCCP phase (that’s the 10-Year Plan – and no, we haven’t gone Stalinist!) we will be very conscious that many ratepayers are going to be feeling the pinch over the next few years.

The problem is for how long?  These phases in the economic cycle do not last forever.  We are accustomed to think of the Great Depression beginning witht the Wall Street Crash of 1929, but the depths probably did not hit until 1931.  By 1934, the world was starting to climb out of it, although it did not end finally, and suddenly, until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

These days, with globalisation and the speed of communications, things happen faster – both downwards and upwards.

So what about the LTCCP?  Do we as a Council say it is all too horrible and plan for nothing?  If we do this, where could that find us in three years time?  The danger would be that if we don’t plan for the revival of growth and demand in a few year’s time we could find ourselves trying to do some big projects all at the same time. 

Better to plan ahead and get ourselves in the position where we are ready to go when the time comes.  We still need to think about how major projects are going to be staged.

A Week in the Life …

26 October 2008

Last week in a councillor’s life:

Monday evening: Southbrook Sports Club

Tuesday morning: briefing for Resource Management & Regulation Committee.

Tuesday afternoon: meetings and briefings for Community & Recreation and Utilities & Roading Committees.

Wednesday afternoon: joint meeting of Waimakariri District Council and Environment Canterbury in Christchurch.

Thursday afternoon: Community Housing Working Party.

Thursday evening: meeting with interested groups and high schools regarding performance facilities and the Rangiora Town Hall.

Friday morning: Financial Review Working Party.

Council Buys Land at Rangiora Airfield

24 October 2008


The Waimakariri District Council has bought a block of land adjacent to the Rangiora Airfield.

The reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, the provide more space in the future because the airfield is rapidly running out of space for further development.  Secondly, to protect the margins of the airfield from inappropriate development.

The airfield, first bought by the Rangiora County Council after World War II, is seen as having great potential for driving economic development in Waimakariri District.

Photography at the Chamber Gallery

24 October 2008

The latest exhibition at the Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora Library features award-winning prints from the Photographic Society of NZ’s Southern Regional Salon.  It’s well worth a look if you are near the library – or make a special trip of it.

The exhbition has been arranged by the Rangiora Photographic Society.  The Chamber Gallery is run by the Waimakariri Community Arts Council on behalf of the Waimakariri District Council.

150 Years Old – Woodend Methodist Church

22 October 2008
The current church - opened 1911
The current church – opened 1911

Woodend Methodist Church is celebrating its 150th birthday this weekend.

In 1858, some newly-arrived settlers held the first Methodist service in Woodend (or Gibbs Town) in the cottage of James Gibbs.  The service was conducted by Rev W Rowse of Lyttelton.
In 1861, the trustees of the church were listed as Thomas Wilson, Robert Atkinson, Thomas Ayers, Charles Skevington, William Gibbs, Arthur Gibbs, Thomas J Turner, Thomas Veysey and Richard Meredith.  There are descendents of some of these, if not all, in the District still.
In 1864, the first church building was opened, a sunday school hall having been built earlier and used for a church.
The photo at the right comes from a history of Methodism published in 1900.
Methodism had a pivotal role in the colonisation of what we know know as the Waimakariri District.  Many prominent citizens of Kaiapoi, Woodend and Rangiora were of that persuasion.

And a great night was had by all …

18 October 2008

Last night’s fundraiser ball and charity auction for the Dudley Park Pool was a great night – great food,  a great band and a room (tent?) full of happy positive people from around the District.

It was a great community event.

Continental Caterers did a great job in dressing up the A & P shed (some outsiders thought they were in a marquee – which they were, sort of ) – and the Vague-as Brothers (the band) really rocked.

Congratulations to Mary Gerard and her organising team on a job well done.

There’s a Lot Here for Visitors to Waimakariri

17 October 2008

Have you seen this?

It’s Visit Waimakariri’s walking and cycling guide and is readily available – and there is a lot there for locals as well as visitors.

It offers a variety of short and long trails, both for walking and cycling – and includes such gems as:

  • Mears Track in Oxford
  • The Wharfedale Track, Oxford
  • The Richardson Track, Glentui
  • Kaiapoi Island
  • Northbook Wetlands, Rangiora
  • Tuhaitara Coastal Reserve


A Confusion of Names: What’s in the Waimakariri?

15 October 2008

For the General Election coming up, many of us know that we are in the Waimakariri Electorate.  Some of us (not me!), however, are in the Kaikoura Electorate.

And yet we are all in the Waimakariri District.

And there are people living in Christchurch City who are in the Waimakariri Electorate.

Electorates are for Parliament.  Districts and Cities are for local government.

Hopefully this will make it clearer:

  • The boundary between the Waimakariri and Kaikoura Electorates is the Ashley River.
  • The Waimakariri Electorate’s southern boundary is within urban Christchurch.
  • The Waimakariri District’s northern boundary (with Hurunui District) winds its way across country north of Saltwater Creek, just south of Balcairn, south of Mount Grey and then around the hills to keep Lees Valley inside Waimakariri District.
  • The Waimakariri District’s boundary (with Christchurch City and Selwyn District) is the Waimakariri District.

So: if you live between the Waimakariri River and the Ashley River, you are in both the Waimakariri District and the Waimakariri Electorate.  If you live in, say, Loburn or Sefton, you are in the Waimakariri District but the Kaikoura Electorate.  If you live in, say,  Marshland, you are in Christchurch City but the Waimakariri Electorate.

Mind you, some Waimakariri District people north of the Ashley River pay water rates to the Hurunui District Council – but we won’t go there!

Twin Districts – the Zonnebeke Link

15 October 2008
Zonnebeke, Belgium

Zonnebeke, Belgium

This week the District was visited by the Belgian ambassador (who is resident in Canberra) and the Belgian consul in Christchurch in recognition of the growing links between the Waimakariri and Zonnebeke Districts.  Within their district is the village of Passendale (Passchendaele) where a number of local men Waimakariri lost their lives in the battle of that name in 1917.  Obviously their visit included a look at the Passchendaele prints, the work of modern Belgian art students, in the Chamber Gallery.

The exhibition lasts only until this Friday, 18 October.  The collection is in the care of the Waimakariri Art Collection Trust and will stay in the District, although it will be available for display throughout the country.

While the link between the two towns has been initiated at central and local government levels, twinning only works when it happens at many levels in the community.  Examples of linking that could take place include schools, museums, veterans’ associations, service clubs, tourist and promotion bodies, churches, sports clubs, cultural organisations and business associations.  Only when that happens can the true benefits of international twinning be realised. Kaiapoi Borough School has already taken steps in this direction.

To this end, a Waimakariri-Zonnebeke Trust is in the process of being set up.

Endangered Birds on the Ashley / Rakahuri

12 October 2008

Nick Ledgard, the chair of the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group, has reported that last year’s wrybill fledging rate was above average, with three chicks making it.  Unfortunately, they all came from the same pair, who managed the feat of double-brooding – two chicks followed by a third later in the season. The other three pairs did not manage to raise chicks successfully.

The lone black stilt was the father of four chicks, but unfortunately he had mated with a pied stilt!

Black-fronted terns were present in reasonable numbers, but the eggs slowly disappeared (black-backed gulls? hawks?) and only 10-15 chicks fledged.

No colonies of black-billed gulls managed to nest.

And now?  Well, the birds are back in the riverbed, so take care when you are down there.  If birds show obvious agitation in your presence, keep moving.  This will allow them to get back on the nest.

Corners of Waimakariri: Kaiapoi Pa

12 October 2008

Kaiapoi Pa, these days near the corner of Kaiapoi Pa and Preeces Roads, between Woodend and Waikuku, was a very important pa for Ngai Tahu. 

The name is testament to the food resources of the area: from the sea, from the surrounding wetlands, from the bush near Woodend and Rangiora, from local rivers like the Rakahuri (Ashley).  Think of a hand holding a poi with the kai coming into the central point.

Kaiapoi Pa was also an important pounamu working place, the pounamu being brought in, of course, from the West Coast.

The monument at at Kaiapoi (shown in part on the left) commemorates this importance, as well as memorialising those who lost their lives in the early 1830s to a raid by Ngati Toa (led by Te Rauparaha) and their allies.

Long Term Council Community Plans (LTCCPs)

10 October 2008

We are entering the LTCCP season.

By law, all Councils, both District and Regional,  have to prepare a Long Term Council Community Plan looking out at least 10 years.  These plans project the work, costs and rates and are updated every three years with each new plan being issued in the middle year of the council term.  This means the first part of next year will be dominated by the LTCCP.

Although a council can alter its LTCCP in the intervening two years, the idea is to give the community some certainty.  The community has the opportunity to decide in what directions it wants to go and for what it is prepared to pay.

The process is much the same as an Annual Plan.  The staff crunch numbers and draw up necessary work programmes (this is happening now) and then gradually councillors get more involved, especially in looking at new initiatives.  In the background, of course, is the current LTCCP which still has seven year’s life in it – so this the new one will be essentially an update reflecting changing circumstances and priorities.  Early next year, a draft LTCCP will be put out for consultation and submission, with the final decisions being made towards June.

In Waimakariri, we will be talking about such things as  roads (always roads!), solid waste recycling and disposal, the Rangiora Town Hall, reserves, town centres and water supplies.

And remember: ECan will also be preparing an LTCCP.  On their programme is likely to be major new protection work along the Waimakariri River.

Tough Times (2)

10 October 2008

The building downturn must be having an effect on the local economy. 

Have a look around you and count the number of Waimakariri businesses that supply to the construction business: tradespeople, plumbing merchants, carpet suppliers, hardware businesses, transport, timber merchants, driveway companies, roofers, paint amd wallpaper merchants, kitchen specialists, home appliances, glaziers  – the list goes on.

Cyclical events are bad enough, but significant permanent constraints on the industry are another thing again.  This is why the District had to find growth directions for Kaiapoi and why it resisted attempts by some to hold back development in Rangiora in the late 1990s.

Tough Times

9 October 2008

Unbridled Ambition

8 October 2008

If you want to see where I’m headed, have a look at the link below. You’ll need to wait for the video to load and then click the little arrow at bottom left.

Perpetual Trust Small Farms Field Day

5 October 2008

Today’s Small Farms Field Day at the Rangiora Racecourse drew a large number of exhibitors – pity the weather wasn’t the best!

Originally started by Environment Canterbury, the biennial Field Day is now run by the Rotary Club of Rangiora with the support of ECan and the sponsorship of Perpetual Trust.

The aims of the Field Day include showing ways of making small holdings more productive and encouraging good practice on the land.

It is clear from the interest shown that not all 4-hectare block owners are there just for the lifestyle.

More on Rangiora’s Ashley Bridge

3 October 2008

Although many people complain about the width of the Cones Road bridge, it has another major problem: it’s too short.

Because of the bridge’s length, the stop-banks on either side are much closer to each other, creating a much narrower channel.  This becomes a pressure point at times of flood – and is where the 1953 flood broke out.

Environment Canterbury has talked for a long time about the need to build a stopbank further south, towards River Road.  The bridge then would be left cut off if a flood filled the channel as far as this suggested stopbank.

Reminiscing: the 1953 Ashley Flood

2 October 2008

The recent high flows in the Ashley River brought back some memories.

In January 1953, I was a 5-year old boy on holiday at Waikuku.  I remember my grandfather coming into the bach and telling us that the Ashley was in flood.  We were in Pine Avenue, on the south side of the lagoon and the bach was on quite high ground.  I don’t remember any water near us, but it had flowed into the lagoon and seemed to stretch inland forever.  I remember the sandhills, where the surf club now is, being dug out to let the water out – which, of course, it did in a great rush.  On the south side, we were isolated and supplies were got to the people on that side by a sort of flying fox at first, and later by connecting up a footbridge across the remains of the road bridge that had been washed out (there is a culvert there now).  Air drops of food were made to the store across the lagoon.

There was a caretaker’s house that was undercut by the water in the lagoon.  It was somehow stopped from toppling in and was later moved a bit south.  I believe it is still there – the northern-most bach in Pine Avenue, on the seaward side.

Eventually, people from that part of Waikuku left in a convoy down the beach to Kairaki.  There, my uncle had arranged for a tractor to pull the cars over the last difficult piece by the Waimakariri rivermouth.  The cars kept in line.  My mother had a little baby Austin 7 and it was third in line.  It couldn’t keep up with the first two in the sand and so the rest of the convoy had to drive at her speed!

I didn’t know it then, but I know know that the Ashley broke out just north of Rangiora and from there headed across country.  This stretch of the Ashley is still a worry: it is a narrow part occasioned by the short length of the road bridge.

Urban Roads

1 October 2008

The Council is moving into its triennial Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) phase when it consults the community on what needs to be done and paid for over the next ten years.  The formal consultation period will start early next year with the final decisions made towards June.

Roading is about the single most expensive part of the Council’s activities and affects everyone.

Residents might like to start thinking about the traffic in our two main towns, particularly the congestion that occurs on Williams Street in Kaiapoi and Southbrook Road in Rangiora.  What would you like to see happen? In the current LTCCP (which goes through to 2016), little is said.  Do the two towns need new outlets? 

Can we make it easier for Kaiapoi traffic to get on to the Northern Motorway? – if that is desirable.

Are there other ways that Rangiora traffic could be getting on to Lineside and Flaxton Roads, other than via Southbrook Road?

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