Speech from Lisbeth Alley, Chairperson of the Beach Haven Placemaking Group on the opening of the new Opaketai Beach haven Garden;
Kia Ora, Talofa lava, Greetings, Hello to you all.
We have come together today to celebrate the opening and the naming of Opaketai Beach Haven Garden. This space which was once a derelict old post office has been transformed into a special place. A place which promotes community connectedness- a warm, and interesting place where people want to come, to sit, eat, talk, play, perform and even stop and smell the roses; a place destined to become the heart of our community. We also wish to take this opportunity to say a huge Thank you to all the people and organisations who have contributed their passion and their skills to create the lovely garden we are in today.
The story of this place is a story of a collective vision involving a vacant section in the middle of this beautiful coastal village, with its diverse and cohesive community.
About 4 years ago, the Beach Haven Placemaking Group decided to create a garden on this site and approached Auckland Council for the ok. We were told ‘you can do anything which can be bulldozed later’ - so we set about organising a community planting day. About 100 people turned up with plants and spades and created the simple garden which grew and developed over nearly 4 years.
During this time, the Kaipatiki Local Board committed to support and fund development of this space to create a central focal community meeting place and has worked with the Beach Haven Placemaking Group ever since to make this dream become a reality. After a lot of community consultation, a general plan was developed which included the concepts which originated at a community meeting here in Beach Haven in Feb 2010, organised by the Community coordinator, Jill Nerheny, and facilitated by the global proponent of Placemaking, David Engwicht. This emphasised the attachment of local residents to the Beach Haven Wharf and the seaside location of the area. …….and you can see that this theme has been continued throughout Opaketai BH Garden.
Thank you to all the people who have contributed to the creation of this garden and community space.
Thank you Jill and all your team. What we see here today is a direct result of that first 2010 meeting, and your foresight and vision for this community.
Thank you, thank you thank you to the Kaipatiki Local Board who have supported and encouraged us all the way, not to mention have found the funding (and then the extra funding!) required to make the idea, the vision become reality. You are doing great things in our community.
We’d also say a huge thanks to the City Transformation Team headed by Peter Beckerleg, and the landscape architects David Little and Esther Helmstrom, who are the whizzes behind many of the beautiful details in this garden. Dave and Esther listened to our ideas with respect and understanding, and then applied their creativity and talents to our vision and made everything so much better in every way, in fact the result has ,quite honestly, far exceeded our wildest expectations. We will be forever grateful to you all.
And our very best wishes to Peter who we are aware has not been well.
Another person who deserves a great big Thank you is Rachel Hume, who has project managed this whole development over several years, and who has worked so hard to make things happen for us. Thank you Rachel, you have done a most wonderful job and have been a pleasure to work with.
To Harald Decker and the team at Decker Construction who have contributed the hard physical work and expertise to build this place, thank you. Your workmanship has been exceptional- everything has been beautifully finished with care, and this is obvious in the smooth lines of the woodwork and all the other construction details in this garden.
Huge Thanks to Ngati Whatua whose artists so beautifully captured the spirit of this place with the beautiful pou and the Nga hau e wha design in the centre of the paving which symbolises the meeting of the four winds. This reflects the multinational & multi-cultural community in which we live, and the mixing of the different cultures so all our community-just like the winds, meet and share this space together. Reference to Mana Whenua is also demonstrated in the woven style of the boardwalk and stage/jetty structures, and the carved designs on the sides of the planter boxes and will also be apparent in some of the plants still to be planted. Thank also to Te Kawerau a Maki Iwi for gifting the name Opaketai, which has special significance to this area.
To Beach Haven Birkdale Garden Circle thanks for taking on the care and development of a significant section of the garden- the part with the lovely roses. Your support has always been much appreciated and we look forward to working here together in the future.
To the Beach haven Birkdale Residents Association, thanks for everything. We have always been able to rely upon your assistance and support – thanks especially for all the sausages and funding when we really needed it. Much appreciated.
And to the Beach Haven Placemaking Group members, both past and present, your persistence, commitment and determination to work together to enhance the Beach haven Community and the village centre is amazing. In particular, I would like to thank Neil Coleman who for many years contributed his wonderful artistic skills and ideas to create the original drawings and plans which enabled us to share our ideas with the council and the community, and who created most of the murals you see about the village; and the other backbone members of this group, including Robyn Laurenson, John Christenson, Duncan Laidlaw, Damian Light and Ashleigh Harris. And Walter and Pieternella Dyskstra who have been there and helped with nearly every planting day from the beginning. A massive Thank you to you all.
And last but not least, Thank you to the whole Beach Haven community who have supported us all the way, who have donated plants, turned up on community planting days, participated in scarecrow days, and family fun days – Thank you for all the support you have provided to us during the development of Opaketai Beach Haven Garden.
So now we say, come and enjoy the garden, the flowers, the fruit trees, and your community. Sit in the sun. Watch the bees, the birds and the butterflies, and the children playing.
We ask the community to grow and take care of this space, protect it for future generations, plant flowers and herbs and vegetables in the garden, and of course you are most welcome to join us on the first Sunday of the month when we meet to do the monthly planting and weeding. We will remain responsible for looking after the front half of this garden & the planter boxes and the vege garden area, in conjunction with the Beach Haven Birkdale Gardening Circle, and Auckland Council Parks Dept. who will maintain the rear area of Opaketai Beach Haven Garden.
Looking forward to working together and a great future in our community. Best wishes to you all.
Chairperson, on behalf of the Beach Haven Placemaking Group