Whakatāne is one of the centres to have successfully secured a portion of the Government’s $13.95 million Innovating Streets Fund which will see projects carried out across the country that make streets more people-friendly.

Waka Kotahi has this week confirmed that Whakatāne District Council has been successful in its application to the fund for $494,200 to investigate space activation options for Whakatāne.

The funding enables the Council to work with Te Rūnanga  o Ngāti Awa, community and town centre businesses to co-design and activate space on Kakahoroa Drive, responding to the community’s growing desire to create safe walking and cycling spaces, reflective of the safe-streets experience of COVID-19 lockdown.

Tumuaki (Chair), Te Rūnanga o Ngati Awa Joe Harawira says the funding enables an opportunity to enhance and restore connections to the awa. “Caring for our places of significance along the river is a long-held aspiration for Ngāti Awa. We welcome exploring options to embed our values and better support Iwi and hapū kaitiakitanga.”

Whakatāne District Mayor Judy Turner echoes the thoughts of Mr Harawira saying that the project gives the community the opportunity to co-design and test how this space can be activated to add vibrancy, without a significant financial impact. “The Innovating Streets Fund focuses on a ‘tactical urbanism’ approach which scales up the pace of change through pilots, pop-ups and interim treatments that will allow these changes and other iwi/community-led ideas to be tested and refined with ongoing conversations around the design and use of the space.”

The application submitted by the Council included concept drawings developed by consultants DCM Urban Design Ltd to show what might be possible for activating this space, and responding to the community’s growing desire to create safe walking and cycling spaces.

Mayor Turner notes that there is an acute awareness within Council of the importance of and value placed on carparking with the town, and this project will keep this consideration at the forefront throughout its development. “The concept designs were necessary to secure the funding and only provide an indication of what can be achieved,” she says. “The actual design will involve working with stakeholders and the community and we look forward to embarking on this process.”

This latest funding will inform and ensure the best outcomes can be achieved for the Riverfront Revitalisation Project, which also received funding from the Provincial Growth Fund in March this year. The project aims to deliver quality public spaces and infrastructure with better connections to the river to promote vibrancy, resilience and unlock private investment.