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City plans good for businesses

AN URBAN development strategy centred largely on Turanganui a Kiwa-Gisborne’s coastline, the Turanganui River and the maunga Kaiti Hill has the potential to benefit businesses in this region.

The council’s Urban Development Strategy, adopted late last year, aims to create better public spaces and more of them so that communities and visitors can connect socially, experience culture, recreation and events, and do business more easily than before.

“We want an active and safe inner city that’s well connected to our neighbourhoods, world-class beaches and beautiful rivers,” says Gisborne District Council chief executive Judy Campbell.

The strategy identifies Grey Street as a vital link in the city’s active transport network and an axis connecting the Taruheru River, CBD and Oneroa on Waikanae beach.

“We are a river city and a beach city and we have the opportunity to create better access to beaches and emphasise our rivers and celebrate what makes our area unique.

“Connection is what the Grey Street plan is about. Include Awapuni Road in that vision and you have a view of the Cook statue, Kaiti Hill, the Young Nick statue, the Hawaiki Turanga sculpture, the railway bridge and possibly the historic Te Hau ki Turanga meeting house at the railway station.”

At the heart of the design is a “golden pathway” which is oriented towards the historical precinct. This includes Kaiti Hill, the James Cook memorial, the Hawaiki Turanga sculpture that will be installed near the Waikanae Stream mouth, and the inner harbour which is to be developed as part of the Tairawhiti Navigations project.

This project, which will celebrate the region’s dual heritage, voyaging traditions and national significance as the place of first meetings, also includes pathways, a bridge across the Turanganui River, landscaping, shade areas and storytelling media.

Tourism a headlineTourism is a “headline” in the economic development action plan which is now with central government, says Mrs Campbell.

“We took more than 27 actions down to 10. Tourism is in the top ten.”

The urban development plan is about bringing people to Gisborne, having them stay longer and spend more money, she says.

The potential 20,000 extra passengers Air New Zealand could bring to Gisborne each year, in the larger planes that are soon to be used, would benefit both the local community and the airline, says Mrs Campbell.

This region is of historic importance to Air New Zealand and has a host of visitor attractions such as surfing and great weather.

“We started from the principle of the citizens of Gisborne enjoying their own city with the added benefits of tourism attractions. What is it we offer people to see? It will create a journey people can experience.”

She sees the 250th anniversary of first formal contact between explorer James Cook and Maori on the East Coast as a potential beacon.

“The eyes of the world will be on Gisborne in 2019. We want people to think, ‘I want to go there’.”

Modernisation to attract more businessesLike Auckland’s Viaduct Basin and Wynyard Quarter, beautification and modernisation of Gisborne’s harbour area would attract more businesses to the area.

The region’s existing and proposed cycleways also have spin-offs for tourism and for people wanting to stay in Gisborne for its lifestyle, says Mrs Campbell.

“Our project managers and councillors have a project group that meets regularly to work on the next stage of an across-city cycleway. Kids from Kaiti will have an interconnection between cycleways. That is in the urban development strategy but it has a sub-plan of its own.

“If we do not have these kinds of things, younger people will leave.

“We have a higher-than-average rate of younger children as well as baby boomers who stay here. Twenty-four percent of the population is under 14.”

A long-term economic strategy depends in part on upskilling the younger population, and this involves an educational strategy via Eastland Community Trust and professional learning and development consultancy CORE Education Ltd.

“We are in a ‘purple patch’ where everything is coming through.”

Mrs Campbell points to significant developments in Kaiti as having potential positive impacts in terms of keeping young people in Gisborne. They are the planned Papawhariki community sports hub and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou’s conversion of the former DB Hotel into a community hub.

“We are also doing a lot of work around utilities in Kaiti.”

Digital technology is an industry that could grow in Gisborne and this future-view is a deliberate focus for The Mind Lab.

This specialist education lab dedicated to enhancing digital literacy, established in Gisborne a year ago, is a collaboration with public education provider Unitec.

Pride in Gisborne is at the heart of the city’s social development. This will enhance the desire in young people and professionals to stay in Gisborne, says Mrs Campbell.

“People can stay in Gisborne and surf at lunch time and run a business overseas. You can have the lifestyle without sacrificing your career.”

BOULEVARD CITY: This image, taken from computer graphic modelling used by Gisborne District Council, shows Awapuni Road and Grey Street looking towards Titirangi (Kaiti Hill). “A new boulevard of canopy trees might contribute to a beautiful entrance to the city,” says the council’s draft urban development strategy. Trees planted along Grey Street would help connect the sea to the Taruheru River. Picture supplied by Gisborne District Council
Judy Campbell