If you see a glow in the evening skyline coming from Paihia – it’s all the beaming smiles on the locals as they celebrate more national recognition.
Focus Paihia was recently named Supreme Winner – at the Trustpower Community Awards, chosen from a group of 25 district winners from across New Zealand.
“It is a huge honour” said Grant Harnish, Focus Paihia chair. “The calibre of participants and impact that they are having on their own communities is just awe inspiring. To be selected from amongst your peers is just so humbling”.
This comes on the back of winning the Mitre 10 Community of the Year in February (part of the New Zealander of the Year Awards).
“It is wonderful recognition for all the hard work that has being put in by so many local people (and sometime visitors) to improve the look and feel of our village” said Grant.
The Award recognises the transformation of a once well used but unattractive carpark on the Paihia waterfront.
“From day one the community told us they wanted a people friendly waterfront” said Sarah Greener, Focus Paihia Treasurer. “It was the most controversial make over the town had undertaken, however, the results are fantastic – the success well beyond what we could have imagined”.
The park was built over a three month period. 257 volunteers gave over 9,000 hours of their time, sweat and energy. And this doesn’t include all the people that fed them (very well), looked after family or businesses so that the work could be achieved.
It is estimated that the park would have cost around $1.3m if it had been undertaken by commercial contractors. Instead it cost $180k. Focus Paihia paid for about 90% of this through their self sustaining income channels – the main one being the super successful Paihia Op Shop.
They also received a lot of support and resource either in-kind or at cost, with Council chipping in too, to help make it all happen.
A large proportion of the cost was installing an extensive lighting system in both the park and village green. “This not only provides a wonderful ambience in the evening but has improved safety and visibility” said Grant.
“The best thing about all these projects is that they have brought our community together” said Grant. “Once Paihia was renowned for being disconnected and difficult to deal with. Now we have some unity and such a sense of pride. Our community spirit grows daily”.
“We are truly grateful to the community, who have come onboard and made Paihia what it is today. A place with a heart, with passion and optimism. We love it” said Sarah.
See the video below presented by our team at the awards.