Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 11 July 2019

Community-led placemaking

Anyone who has lived in the Doubtless Bay area for the last 10 years will be familiar with the saga of Mangonui's waterfront. It started in 2007 when the Far North District Council began work on a project to transform a section of Mangonui's waterfront into an attractive promenade. Initially, this took the form of a concrete walkway and iron fence.

Local people complained that the promenade wasn't the jetty-like structure they had asked for, so the Council replaced it with a timber boardwalk in 2008. This was a lot more popular with people, but there was still a problem. The boardwalk lacked a safety railing required by a Northland Regional Council resource consent.

I won't try to chronicle events over the next 10 years, particularly transactions between the district council and the regional council. Suffice to say, my Council installed a safety barrier at the boardwalk in 2018 to comply with the resource consent and to avoid costly legal action. We said at the time that the safety barrier was an interim measure while a community working group developed waterfront plans that minimized the need for safety barriers.

I am pleased to report that the working group has just released a draft concept plan for the waterfront. This pulls together ideas from the community and does away with the existing safety barrier, proposing a lower wharf alongside the boardwalk. Other features of the concept plan include enlarging the circular wharf near the War Memorial, extending the boardwalk to Maori Point and installing pontoons and gangways, so there is easy access to the water for boating, fishing and swimming.

I encourage you to provide feedback on the draft concept plan before 31 July, so the working group can finalise the plan and we can start preparing a resource consent application. Further information and feedback forms are on our website at or you can pick these up from Mangonui Stationery and Lotto.

I commend the working group for producing a plan that includes a lot of the things the community asked for. Reaction to the plan has generally been favourable so far, though ultimately consent authorities will determine the final design, including whether safety barriers are required.

Realising the entire concept plan will also depend on obtaining external funding. The Council has included $1.12 million in its Long Term Plan 2018-28 to fund a boardwalk extension. This will only cover a fraction of capital costs, so we will be looking to the Provincial Growth Fund and private funding agencies to fund the balance.

The Far North District Council is all about creating great places and supporting our people. This project is a great example of this and it is one of many successful, community-led placemaking projects across the district.



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