Horotutu – Our Place – Opening Celebrations
Over 500 people were present at the opening celebration for Horotutu – Our Place on November 9, 2013. It was a lovely Spring evening, although cooling quickly as darkness fell. This event was the culmination of a huge amount of work to create what is not only a park in its own right but an important first step in Paihia’s Masterplan. Some people brought salads, desserts and drinks, which were complemented by free sausages, steaks and bread to help create a very festive atmosphere.

The formalities began with a blessing by Vern Witehira and the announcement of the name of the park: Horotutu – Our Place, chosen by public vote.

This was followed by the Focus Paihia AGM, beginning with Grant Harnish’s speech. The AGM completed, Grant identified for thanking some key external people who had contributed to making the park possible: from FNDC Sue Hodge, Pat Killilea and Bill Lee; from Northland Regional Council Vaughan Cooper; from Transit Sebastian Reed; and for his work on the Masterplan Ken Stanton The programme then moved on to the introduction of the various projects by their ‘drivers’:

Paihia’s Free Little Library – Driver Katja Caulton

The Library is built within the existing telephone kiosk and is designed primarily for international travelers to be able to exchange books in a range of languages. Telecom was very generous in allowing the kiosk to be used. To assist with the project, they took away the telephone line but left the wi-fi. Thanks to Glen Caulton for building the shelving and the Roadrunner Tavern for raw materials: beer crates. Thanks to Shell Wilson who organised the sign on the booth and to FusionGraphics who did the design. Jan from the Op Shop painted a little frame for a book quote and Nikki Voakes from The Mousetrap organized for Paihia School children to make 100 bookmarkers to put in the books. And everybody donated books.

Wave Seats – Drivers Greg and Suzy Jones

There are 16 wave seats for use around the park which were pre-cut by Greg and then had to be screwed together. Thanks to Bruce Killen, Joe and Jackie and Bryn Lavelle for this and Nola and Glenys McCardy for helping with the painting.

Seats around Trees – Drivers Todd and Adam Evers

These resulted from a phone call from Grant Harnish. Gazza, Paul and Billy helped while Bruce Gordon dug the holes

Community Net Meals for Volunteer Workers – Driver Belinda Ward

From every corner of town, donors gave in kind. Baking, drinks, cooking and monetary contributions enabled Focus Paihia Community Net to feed and water the volunteers during the establishment of the new park. Thanks for behind-the-scenes support to Horotutu-Our Place includes: Scenic Hotel, Copthorne BOI Resort, Breakwater Motel, Kingfisher Super 7, Super Liquor, Alpha Motel, Ala Moana Motel, Kleenpak Northland, Bay Cabinz Motel, Outrigger Motel, Bill Christian, Paihia Central Motel, Lisa Dove, Cooks Lookout Motel, Explore NZ, Chester & Louise Rendell, Paihia Four Square, Leanne Sutherland, Cellini’s, Elizabeth Killen, Northfreeze, Bev & Kev Dickey, Admirals View Lodge, Jimmy Jacks, Legends Restaurant, Ruffinos, 35 Degrees South, Melanie Vezey, Sue & Rex Larcombe, Aarangi Tui Motel, Swiss Chalet Motel, Peppertree Lodge, Anchorage Motel, Edelweiss Motel, Kingsgate Hotel Paihia, BOI Veterinary Services, Cassa Bella Motel, Blue Pacific Apartments, Bayview Motel, Paihia Pharmacy.

This was a huge effort from those who continued to give as the project dragged on they just kept on giving. Many of these people did not live in Paihia but considered it “their community of interest” and got involved. The same can be said for the workmen at the park who were from surrounding villages and towns around the mid north. Community Net volunteers themselves were the epitome of generosity and good will.

Game Board – Drivers Rex and Fiona Wilson and Tiffany Holland.

Giant nautically themed playing pieces for the universally known game of Naughts and Crosses were launched at the park opening. Artist Teresa Gordon came up with the designs, Greg Jones from Outrigger Motel and Rex Wilson from Gold n Gifts expertly cut and machine sanded the playing pieces. All materials were supplied at wholesale by Bay of Islands ITM. Finishing work was done by Jackie and Sarah Lavell from Northfreeze Refrigeration, Vanessa McKay of Carino Sailing, and Nikki Wilson and Tiffany Holland. Greg and Rex made aluminium stands for the bases making the game manageable for players of all ages. The playing board of painted pavers is ready for a game in any kind of weather.

Water Bottle Refill Station – Drivers Rebecca Gmuer-Hornell and Lisa Mather

Initiated and carried through by two girls from Opua school, based on a belief that there is too much plastic on both land and sea. With consideration for the environment they came up with the idea of a water bottle refill station. This needed a lot of research and effort, and its success came about with the help of teachers and parents, and many others: Kevin Smith, Darrell LimYock, Craig McInnes of CMC Design, Reece Hesketh, Whale Rescue, and ITM Paihia.

The Public Piano – Drivers June and Larry Jacobson

This provides a dedicated music zone where anyone can play. Thanks to Sarah Greener who bought the piano on TradeMe, Peter Millington, Bev Dickey and Gayle McMaster who helped with the sanding and the undercoating, Greg Jones and Vern Witehira who built the trolley, Richard Tapper constructed a rain-proof cover for the piano, while local artist Mary McKay did the artwork. Tony Harrison from Kerikeri donated the piano stool and Reuben Topzand of Waipapa was the first to sit on it, playing the piano’s first official public tune. Far North Holdings graciously donated the working space which was extended to a viewing place for the piano while it awaited its debut.

The Mapboard – Driver Grant Harnish

Ian Wakeley spent weeks on the fibreglass, and thanks also to NPC Signworx. Guardians of the Bay of Islands donated $500, while DOC provided the images and the wording for the activities on the side of the map.

Decking throughout the park – Driver Andy Newton

From suppliers to builders, this project was well supported, and greatly increases the park’s accessibility. The team consisted of Andy Vanasch of Bay of Islands ITM, Kim, Terry Henwood of Henwood Builders and Andy Grierson of Grierson Builders. Both of these last two provided teams of builders free of charge.

Lighting on the Park and the Village Green – Drivers Grant Harnish and Sarah Greener

The lighting cost 60-70 per cent of the park’s budget but it was still carried out at about half of the true cost. Far North Holdings donated $5000 for the lights, NZTA were very helpful with permissions, Corys had been a fantastic supplier, Bruce Rogers of BOI Electrical and Trevor Grass of Flying Fish Design Store gave significant input as electricians, and Bruce Gordon operated the digger to bury cabling for the lights. FNDC paid for four lights along the street.

The Odd-Job Crew – Driver Heinz Marti

Thanks to Alan and Margaret Rasmussen, Bruce Killen, Wendy Hopkinson, Paul and Barbara Linton, the staff from Salt Air (Michelle Ackers, Lara Kay, Cody Rouse and Daniel Hill) Bruce Gordon, Trevor Grass, Greg Jones, and Britta Marti for looking after the guest house.

The Contractors

Andrew Younger (who left his diggers for free use and what was charged was at an amazing discount) and John Douglas had taken all the spoil away and brought the top soil for grassing. ITM provided everything at cost. Fell Engineering, Waipapa Pine, and Alan Walker also contributed.

Mike Colebrook and Andrew Young from Far North District Council had been ‘absolutely amazing’

The Hard Core Crew – Driver Grant Harnish

These were the people who were there every day, all day: Heinz Marti, Nola Witehira, Greg Jones, Trevor Grass, Vern Witehira, and most of all, Grant Harnish

The Water Feature

David Engwicht led the water feature, and in introducing him, Grant Harnish said: ‘He has embraced our town, and in his own time. He is an incredible guy to work with, and even though he is an Australian, we are going to make him an honorary local’. In turn, David thanked his team: Craig the welder, Tracey and Phil at Xtreme Profiles, Margaret and Alan Rasmussen, Richard, Wendy Hopkinson, Ian Wakeley who did the fiberglass, and Skippy who laid the concrete, and then went on to say: ‘Planners from all over Australia and New Zealand are coming to Paihia to see how the town does it. I am asked if the town is better off as a result of what has been done, and I say that Paihia is a happier town as a result, and money doesn’t matter. It is better to give than to receive. And I have told my daughter that when I die, I will have a list of places where I would like my ashes to be scattered, and Paihia is first in that list.’ And with that he declared the Park open.

The Switching on of the Lights

Heinz Marti and Trevor Grass had the honour here.

The Flashmob – Driver Shell Wilson

The final event was the Paihia and community flashmob, choreographed by Shell Wilson and advertised in “secret” on Facebook. Two public rehearsals were held at Paihia School but people could practice independently with Shell’s online how-to video. Under cover of the gathering dark people emerged at random from the audience and began to jive in unison, a sight that surely delighted the uninformed onlookers! Unfortunately it was too dark to take photographs.

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