Council’s feedback frenzy

Waipā Strategy manager Kirsty Downey and at rear Councillor Roger Gordon discuss the spatial plan with residents.

Waipā’s spatial plan engagement programme has become a victim of its own success and  the team behind it is under pressure to provide individual presentations before feedback closes in 11 days.

Strategy manager Kirsty Downey told the Audit and Risk committee this week the plan – known as Ahu Ake – was getting an amazing response.

“There is overwhelming valuable feedback,” she said.

Meetings with the community have been held in Kihikihi, Karāpiro, Te Awamutu, Te Pahu, Ōhaupō, Rukuhia, Pirongia, Cambridge and Ngāhinapōuri. Later today (Thursday) Pukeatua residents will get the chance to feedback, Te Miro and Cambridge next week.

Individual presentations have also been made at schools, including Karāpiro, Cambridge High and Te Awamutu College.

Feedback closes on March 27 at 5pm.

Ahu Ake will be the blueprint for the next 30 years and provide the vision and foundation for all future planning.

One of the most effective tools is a giant map of the district made of canvas which is laid down on the ground for people to walk over and explore.

Karāpiro School principal Tina-Maree Thatcher said there was a lot of interest when the Ahu Ake team visited because of the proposed new location for the school within the village itself.

“Our board and staff embraced the opportunity to learn more about our community and our next step is to work with the council to access their resources.”

Students are about to start a unit of learning about rights and responsibilities.

“It is really important to us as a school to work with the children to capture their thoughts, ideas and their voice about what is essentially their future community,” said Thatcher.

Downey told The News at the Cambridge presentation in Leamington Domain on Saturday that she had been blown away by the ideas which had come from the community.

An example of one came from former urban designer Chris van Empel who now lives in Cambridge and provided assurance the council was on the right track.

Councillor Roger Gordon, who has attended many of the presentations including the one in Leamington, told the committee the level of engagement mitigated any risk of a lack of community vibe.

“That really is a positive. We’re getting some great feedback. There’s very little negativity about that, very little criticism,” he said.

“Some suggestions coming out deserve merit,” said Downey.

That might result in extended timeframes.

The plan is to have Ahu Ake adopted by the council in September.

“We’re working through those options. This has been very much a team effort. We’ve adopted a holistic approach to what has been our biggest ever engagement programme. We can all be proud of our efforts.”

There would be sufficient clarity from Ahu Ake to feed through into the 2024-34 Long Term Plan, said Downey.


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