Pukerua Bay Residents’ Association — 2017 Annual Report of the Chair

It has been a busy year for the Pukerua Bay Residents Association (PKBRA) and we have made significant progress on some initiatives we have been working on for some time.

Village planning

The Pukerua Bay Village Plan is the source of funding for most of the major projects we work on in conjunction with Porirua City Council (PCC): He Ara Pukerua heritage trail, the community garden/food forest, and the extension of the Ara Harakeke path through Pukerua Bay. The funding allocated by PCC for 2017–18 is:

  • He Ara Pukerua $14,500
  • Community food forest garden $7,500
  • Ara Harakeke shared pathway extension $45,000.

The Ara Harakeke extension is the section between the shops and Wairaka Road, part of which was damaged in the floods in November last year. Substantial work is required to retain the wall to allow the footpath to be repaired, and this will be a joint project with PCC Roading and NZTA. The Village Plan part is the actual surfacing of the path, and consultation with residents on the possible closure of one end of Te Kura Road. This work cannot proceed until the collapsed retaining wall is repaired, and a crash barrier is installed along the length of the extension.

Village Plan review

We started a review of the 2011 Village Plan at the end of 2016, and have held a community workshop and several discussions with groups in the community. The workshop identified some immediate areas to focus on (such as, safe movement around the Bay, local environment and pest control, improved recreation and community facilities), along with the need for a longer-term focus. With the opening of Transmission Gully in 2020, development of Plimmerton Farm with the prospect of hundreds of new houses between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay, and the growing popularity of Te Araroa walkway, Pukerua Bay could undergo some significant changes in the next decade.

The next plan is likely to take a longer-term aspirational approach that would allow a better interaction with Porirua City Council council and regional planning. For this reason, we have invited students from the school to speak to us this evening. We want to take account of their thoughts, feelings and values as we consider the next steps for our community.

Community food forest garden

The past year’s activity has been focussed on getting access rights to the land on Muri Reserve, and building an accessway into the site.

In the past 12 months we have been able, working with PCC’s Village Planning team, to sign an access agreement with KiwiRail that allows us to bring supplies and vehicles along the old Muri Station platform, and to negotiate an occupation licence with PCC. Two conditions of the KiwiRail access agreement are that the Residents Association is now required to pay an access fee and to hold public liability insurance. PCC has paid the first year’s installments of these, but we will be liable for them in future, and is a reason we are looking at ways of raising funds for our activities that don’t rely on grants and PCC funding.

PCC has cleared the way to the site along the station platform and built small vehicle access onto the site across the drain behind the platform. They have also installed a new gate and a water supply we can use for irrigation.

Some small-scale planting was done this year to start to create a shelterbelt, and a new committee is in place (Robert Oscroft, Libby Hazell and Jane Comben) to manage the garden and organise work on it. They have plans to start putting in small beds and the infrastructure to support the garden, such as earthworks, composting bins and a tool shed. They will ensure that they work with the immediate neighbours to minimise the impact of their activities on them.

We want to thank Jonathan Harker for his dedication to getting the garden to this state, where it is now possible for work to begin in earnest. There are times when he was about to give up because of hurdles in his way, but he persisted and we owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has achieved.

He Ara Pukerua

This was formerly the ‘Green and gold trails’. It now has a keen group of people in their second year of working on the project: Paul FitzGerald, Pauline Morse, Brian Sullivan, Margaret Blair and Ashley Blair. In February this year, the large sign the group had designed was installed on the Pukerua Bay train station. The installation was carried out by Greater Wellington Regional Council as part of the work they did to replace the passenger shelter on the platform. Working with Jane Comben from Pogo Design, the group designed the signboards that explain the project, provide some background about the structure and encourage residents to provide their own stories to be added to the Pukerua Bay story they are preparing.

The new station building and the He Ara Pukerua sign were formally opened/unveiled on 27 May and have raised awareness of the project in the community. The group also had a stall at the Pukerua Bay School Gala in March and supplied a sign at the front of the school telling its history in time for the school’s 90th anniversary in May.

The group has also met with representatives of Ngāti Toa as tangata whenua, who are enthusiastic about the project and keen to work with them telling the stories of Māori habitation in Pukerua Bay.

The other big project the team has worked on this year is the development of a 2018 calendar with historical photos of Pukerua Bay. This has been designed by Anne Johnstone with photos largely supplied by Ashley and Margaret Blair. Proceeds of the sale of this will go to the Residents Association for its operating expenses and the school for supporting the sale process.

Muri Road safety measures

After many years of lobbying from residents and the Residents Association, PCC started work on measures to improve the safety of pedestrians and drivers on Muri Road. Consultation with residents early in 2017 resulted in PCC’s plans to install more lighting, build a footpath in the middle stretch of the road and add signs and road markings to slow traffic along with road. Work started in June, and also included trimming vegetation to improve drivers’ visibility and create room for pedestrians at one point, and to ensure light from street lights shines on the road. ‘Slow zone’ signs have been installed at either end of the middle section of the road. The new footpath means pedestrians can walk off the carriageway for the full length of the road.

Work has been slow at times, with the contractors, Downers, often taken off to other jobs, but with the persistence of PCC’s Bill Inge, we are close to completion.

This is something we have been pushing for for many years, and with the closure of Muri train station and the increase in walkers on Te Araroa walkway, this work is very necessary. We are very pleased this work has finally been done.

Hall committee

The Pukerua Bay Hall is an asset that is shared between the School and the community, in that it is owned by the school, while the use of it outside school hours is managed by the community. The Hall Committee is made up of community members and is a sub-committee of the Residents Association — the committee’s convener is PKBRA committee member Kate Dreaver. This sort of arrangement is rare and dates back to when the hall was built in 1973. The Hall Committee meets every couple of months and reports to the Residents Association and the School Board of Trustees (BoT).

One of the committee’s roles is to make recommendations to the BoT on improvements that can be made to the hall, using money earned from the hire of the hall over many years. This money comes from casual hirage and the regular use by the After School Care group. For a number of years, it has been difficult to identify the approximately $30,000 of hall money in the school’s accounts, because of the way the Ministry of Education tells school to manage their accounts. This makes it difficult to spend the money as part of the school’s property improvements, which have to be approved by the Ministry of Education. The Hall Committee, Residents Association and BoT have met twice this year, including once with a Ministry of Education representative, in an attempt to solve this issue.

The school is working on an accounting solution that will allow it to identify this money and tag it for use on hall improvements. We are very keen for them to succeed and will continue to work with the BoT and Hall Committee so we can make improvements to the hall to enhance its value to both the school and wider community.

Ahu Charitable Trust / Pukerua Bay Hub

In September 2016, a group of more than 30 Pukerua Bay residents held a public meeting to discuss the desire for a café in Pukerua Bay. From this meeting, a group of seven formed a steering group to investigate the idea further (Aimee Porteners, Nicola Winchester, Kelly McClean, Kirk Beyer, Angela Brown, Elizabeth Brittain and Rebecca Davis – Residents Association Committee Member).

They immediately began researching to understand the community’s wants and needs, learning from people in the hospitality industry, meeting with the owners of a possible location, and scoping how a social enterprise model could deliver a café and community hub to the people of Pukerua Bay. It became apparent that there is a desire for more than just coffee in Pukerua Bay. There is a need for people to have opportunities to enjoy the company of others, get to know their ‘neighbours’ and share their knowledge and skills.

To develop a full service café is an undertaking that needs substantial financial investment and a suitable location that can be secured for the long term, therefore the café concept is still being explored and a business plan being developed. But the group has already swung into action with Pukerua Bay Hub and is bringing the community together through arts and culture activities, skill sharing, workshops and community events.

The group (named above) formed Ahu Charitable Trust ki Pukerua Bay. The PKBRA has supported them, including the endorsement of an application for PCC Village Plan funding to contribute towards administration, accounting, insurance costs, etc. Unfortunately this application was not successful for the 2017/18 year. Instead, funding is being done through fundraising and applications for grants. We will continue to support Ahu’s activities in the community.

Te Araroa walkway

The Te Araroa walkway has proved to be very popular, with hundreds of people walking it on warm days in summer. This has caused some problems with parking around the end of Muri Road and Pukerua Bay train station on busy days. It has restricted access for local residents along roads and, in some cases, onto their properties. The popularity of the track has exceeded the expectations of Te Araroa Walkway Trust, which built the track. There is a need to install toilets at either end of the escarpment walk; however, these are expensive and not a high priority for local councils.

The signage directing walkers from the track to the train station and from the station to the end of the track has been inadequate. PCC has money in this year’s budget to install more, and better, signs along the Pukerua Bay section of the walkway. This may happen this coming summer.

The Residents Association is working closely with Te Araroa Walkway Trust and PCC to find solutions to these issues, including the lack of parking.

Submissions

We made a submission to PCC’s Annual Plan this year, and spoke to the Council about our submission. We urged them to ensure they put resources into fixing erosion on Pukerua Bay beach, repairing the collapsed footpath between the shops and Wairaka Road, and mitigating the impact of the extra people coming into Pukerua Bay on Te Araroa Walkway.

Pukerua Bay civil defence

Pukerua Bay’s civil defense team exercises regularly as part of the Porirua Emergency Response Team (PERT), and maintains connections in the community to ensure we can respond to emergencies.

This year, the Residents Association met with the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) to discuss the community response plan it is preparing for Pukerua Bay. Members of the committee attended the civil defence centre activation day at the school in September. The guides WREMO is developing will be very useful if the centre has to be activated. However, we want to ensure that there is a strong local CD group, which remains the basis for the community’s response, as Pukerua Bay is likely to be isolated in a serious disaster and will have to rely on itself for some time.

The group has a new co-coordinator, Ewan Mclean, working with Robyn Moore as part of PERT and doing the training programme.

Boxing Day Beach Smash

This was held again last Boxing Day, with a good local turnout. Steve Wright took over the organisation last year, and it took a lot of time and effort, for which we are grateful. The PKBRA underwrote the day, paid for publicity, and helped support the arrangements for use of the reserve on the day.

Erosion on beach

Beach residents approached the PKBRA in December with their concerns about the erosion on the beach, which is undercutting the bank over the beach and making the ground unsafe. They came to a committee meeting in February, and we are supporting their efforts to get PCC to take some action to prevent the situation from getting worse. PCC has shared with residents and PKBRA a report on possible approaches to the erosion. However, there has been no progress on this. PCC is stretched financially by the damage caused by the floods in November 2016, which has cut the amount of money for this sort of work.

We were unsuccessful in getting money put into the Village Plan budget for residents to use for their own research into ways to prevent more damage, but will keep working with them and PCC to find a workable, affordable solution. This situation will only get worse, and is a risk to public safety and the underground services near the road.

Reserve protection on coastal track

The PKBRA is supporting work by locals to raise awareness of the need to protect the native animals and plants along the coast south of Pukerua Bay. We are supporting efforts to install a sign at the end of the beach carpark raising awareness of the little blue penguins, whose numbers are growing locally and which used to nest along the coast. Part of this is to encourage locals to ensure their dogs are properly restrained when they are walking them through the PCC Raroa Escarpment Reserve and the Department of Conservation scientific reserve on the coastal track on the way to Wairaka Rock.

We have obtained a grant from Hutt Mana Charitable Trust and Kapiti Biodiversity Project towards the sign. More is needed, and we will support work with PCC and DoC to ensure the sign is installed.

Acknowledgments

I want to thank the members of the committee — Jonathan Harker, Kate Dreaver, June Penhey, Brian Sullivan, Beccy Davis, Pauline Morse and Paul FitzGerald — for their work during the year. We’ve made good progress through their efforts.

I also want to thank PCC staff and PPC and Greater Wellington Regional Council councillors for their support this year. In particular, Councillor Dale Williams, who attends all our meetings and helps us navigate our way through PCC, and Village Projects Coordinator Bill Inge, who has driven the work on Muri Road safety improvements and the access onto the Muri Reserve site of the community garden.

Iain MacLean
7 November 2017

Leave a Reply