Ara Tawa Pathway & Grasslees Reserve Opening

18.5.14

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown at the opening of Ara Tawa, the Tawa Shared Pathway

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown at the opening of Ara Tawa, the Tawa Shared Pathway

E Nga iwi, e nga mana, e nga reo

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

I’ll begin by acknowledging the following:

  • Kaumatua Peter Jackson, tēnā koe
  • Mayor Nick Leggett
  • Councillors, Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, Malcolm Sparrow, Sarah Free and Iona Pannett
  • Past Northern Ward councillor and huge contributor to the project, Ngaire Best
  • Deputy chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, Barbara Donaldson.
  • Brett Gillies, Chair of the Tawa Valley Pathway Committee and your committee members
  • Apologies for Robert Tredger Chair of the Tawa Community board
  • Local leaders, workers and neighbours, cyclists dog walkers, pram pushers, wheelchair users and scooterers

This is a great day for Tawa, the Northern Suburbs and how we get around - for health, getting from A to B and just getting out enjoying ourselves actively!

Today also represents the culmination of a few years of effort and Council’s commitment to our urban-nature connections.

Many good folk have played important roles in the conception and construction of Tawa Valley Pathway, Ara Tawa, and also the development of Grasslees Reserve.

In particular, Brent Gillies and the Tawa Valley Pathway Committee - you put in so many hours walking possible routes, poring over large scale maps and negotiating with many parties

Northern Ward councillors Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie and Malcolm Sparrow and especially Previous Northern councillors Ngaire Best

Transport portfolio leader Cr Andy Foster - it was a 9:6 vote back in June 2009 on an amendment Andy and I moved to increase the cycling budget back then

Thanks to Council staff, both in Parks & Gardens and Transport who are forging links within Council.

And thanks to the NZTA, our 50:50 funding partners for the transport part of this project, and all the contractors who put in bridges, asphalt, and signs – some of whom were working till late yesterday.

After many years of planning and construction, the 5km long Tawa Valley Pathway – Ara Tawa is now complete.

This project was completed with funding from the Council and NZ Transport Agency and developed with the community’s Tawa Valley Pathway Committee. It was an idea that first came from the community – and this community already loves it!

It is a north-south route through the suburb close to local schools, recreational facilities, parks, shops and train stations, meaning the pathway can be used recreationally by people wanting to get some exercise, as part of a commute to work, or to get from one part of the neighbourhood to another.

A local project came together with a strategic desire for more cycling and walking. Lo and behold, the pathway is here!

Yesterday I rode from Grasslees north to kenepuru station and then south to Takapu Station, becoming the first cyclist over the Willowbank bridge. They were working till six last night. I’ve never had a road washed in front of me before!

What a lovely stream - and much opportunity for Friends of Tawa Bush and other groups to work with us towards Wellington's two million trees. People I met were so happy with the project.

To complete the pathway, new bridges and a level rail crossing have been constructed,

Porirua City Council will continue developing the pathway from Kenepuru Station to Porirua Station. Thanks Nick!

In time it is expected to link up to Porirua’s Ara Harakeke pathway in Plimmerton, and eventually on through to Kapiti Coast District Council’s pathways, with a vision to connect to Otaki. Other on-street improvements in Tawa are also possible in the future to improve connections and make getting to local schools and facilities even safer.

There's a community drop in session on Sunday 25th May at Tawa Community Centre.

Middleton Road is still recognised as a gap in the cycling network between Tawa and Wellington, and will need to be addressed. There are also some issues with crossing Tawa's Main Road in some places, to  link East and West Tawa on foot or by cycle.

We are certainly both responding to, and creating demand for cycling. The number of Wellingtonians who cycle to work has increased 73 percent between the 2006 census and 2013.

This pathway, and many others, are for many other users too. Yesterday I saw people walking dogs, wheelchair users, runners and people just enjoying the sunshine.

The Grasslees Reserve upgrade, funded through a $550,000 grant from the Charles Plimmer Bequest and $90,000 from Council budgets, joins the two halves of the park with a new bridge across Porirua Stream.

There are also new park entrances and paths, and a basketball half-court.  The dog-exercise area has been fenced along Main Road and two barbecue and picnic areas added.

Natural elements are a feature of the new-look park. Most of the playground materials are timber and we’ve used bark and sand rather than artificial surfaces.

And the swings are big enough for adults - hooray!

These great projects came about because of Council’s commitment to better transport, better recreation and better community connections.

We've made good investments in the northern suburbs of Newlands, Johnsonville, Churton Park and Tawa in the four years since I became Mayor.

It's an important and growing part of the city and YOU do your community part, whether it's flower baskets, Neighbours Day or the Spring festival - and many other good projects.

We have over 500 reserves which equates to over 4000ha of open space. Awesome for any capital city!

In 14/15 $724,000 is allocated for playground maintenance (spread across over 100 playgrounds) and $8,441,000 is allocated for the maintenance of local parks and open spaces.

There is certainly ‘value for money’ here: It costs $1.37 per person per day to provide all the City Council social and recreation services – this includes playgrounds, sportsfields, swimming pools, libraries, food safety and social housing.

We’ve tripled our budget for our cycling network so we can implement more routes like this, faster.

I’m delighted to declare the Tawa Valley Pathway, Ara Tawa, open!