Kihikihi on a roll

Susan O’Regan, Waipa councillor, Peter Fraser, chair, Tonia Eckhoff, secretary, councillor Hazel Barnes. © Mary Anne Gill, Good Local, 2021

The Kihikihi Residents and Ratepayers’ Association is claiming a significant victory for their community following the adoption of a Kihikihi Urban Development Plan.

Chair Peter Fraser told The News Waipā District Council ignored Kihikihi when it drafted the council’s long-term plan and were subsequently “embarrassed” when the association pointed it out to them.

“This has been our fight for the community,” Fraser said at the Community Connect Day held on Sunday at the Kihikihi Domain.

Council’s Strategic Planning and Policy committee adopted the development plan at its meeting on Tuesday.

“We needed to be listened to. We just need to see some progress in Kihikihi,” said Fraser who confirmed after the meeting the first projects out of the blocks would be a new playground and a skateboard park at John Rochford Park in Bryce Street.

“We’ve got to start catering for the kids and the young families now coming to Kihikihi,” he said.

The association would support the council and was prepared to get “right behind them”.

“Kihikihi was the big winner,” said Fraser.

During the community day, residents added other ideas to a white board.

Suggestions ranged from installing more rubbish bins, preventing truck drivers toothing their horns as they enter the village and having a fenced dog park.Veteran Kihikihi-based councillor Hazel Barnes told the meeting the day was “finally here.”

“If the community meeting at the domain is an indication, my word, they’re ready to go.”

Committee chair Susan O’Regan said she was warned that if the development plan stayed on the shelf, there would be a loss of confidence in the council’s process.

She said she was pleased to see an implementation plan sitting alongside main development plan.

The short-term projects identified are:

  • Undertake research of Kihikihi domain’s current use and community aspirations to provide groundwork for future facilities plan
  • Identify useable open space to the southwest of Kihikihi Village to provide play and picnic amenities
  • Develop Turata to enable community use and the sharing of Kihikihi’s history
  • Engage with local iwi to investigate opportunities to jointly enhance Rewi Maniapoto Reserve to further acknowledge and share local Māori history and connections and potentially enhance play provision and landscaping
  • Use street trees to visually connect open spaces and create safe shared path routes to these spacesReview existing parking at Kihikihi School and investigate opportunities to minimise congestion at pick-up/drop-off times
  • Provision of bus shelters along bus routeInvestigate opportunities to improve connection with Waikeria Prison
  • Investigate potential sites to create a community hub.

Kihikihi, population 2808, is situated 4kms south-east of Te Awamutu, and has always been strategically important both for Māori and European.

Ngāti Maniapoto chief Rewi Maniapoto, who led Kīngitanga forces during the New Zealand government invasion of Waikato during the New Zealand Wars, has a memorial in Kihikihi dedicated to him.

Kihikihi Residents and Ratepayers president Peter Fraser, left, and secretary Tonia Eckhoff

Kihikihi is the Māori word for cicada.

A large statue of a cicada stands at the village’s northern entrance.

Its main street has a number of heritage buildings and the village’s layout is of a gridded open street pattern.

The Kihikihi Domain is one of the country’s largest multi-purpose open spaces.

The Waipā 2050 Growth Strategy projects that the Te Awamutu and Kihikihi area will require an additional 3400 households by 2050.

It also anticipates that all new developments in Kihikihi (aside from unserved large lot residential developments in the T6 and T15 growth cells) will be infill on existing sections due to the limited capacity of the wastewater scheme that is in place.

CommSafe – l-r John Barns-Graham, Jan Smith, Angus Smith, Mandy Merson, Wendy Graham, Stephanie Dickinson. © Mary Anne Gill, Good Local, 2021


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