On the morning of Saturday December 3rd, over three-hundred people attended the blessing and turning of the sod ceremony in Bothamley Park to mark the start of the planned wastewater pipe upgrade through Bothamley Park. It was an event worthy of the important mahi that is about to take place. 3km of new, bigger, and tougher pipes, will deliver significant benefits for Porirua’s environment and for the health of the community while also enabling new homes to be built in the area.
Formalities began with a welcome and karakia by Dr Taku Parai. This was followed by an informative korero about the connection between people and the land. He spoke of how Papatuanuku (mother earth) sustains life on earth and how the land nourishes us in many ways. We are born and then return to Papatuanuku after physical life ends.
This opening set an inspirational tone for the waiata, speeches from project partners and stakeholder, kai and the cultural performance that followed.
Helmut Modlik, Tumu Whakarae (CEO) at Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira, talked about his personal connection to Porirua, both as a Ngāti Toa descendent and as the son of a builder that worked on the area’s original state houses. He, and a number of other Ngāti Toa Rangatira who followed, emphasised the importance of balancing environmental outcomes with long-term sustainable benefit for the community. Callum Katene, Chair of the Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Board, supported Helmut’s kōrero, and joined a number of others to lead a stirring waiata.
Lynell Tuffery Huria, Chair of Te Pae Whakahou Hapori, spoke of their role to engage and support the community, to advocate on the things they care about and to ensure the project delivers on what it has promised to the people.
The Porirua Development project, which the Bothamley Park wastewater pipe upgrade is part of, is a partnership between Kāinga Ora, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Porirua City Council. Wendy Walker, the Council’s CE, spoke about the importance of partnerships in delivering long term benefits for the community. This sentiment was reinforced by Robbie Woods (Porirua Development’s Associate Programme Director) in his overview of how community engagement had informed the programme of work about to begin.
The crowd were then delighted by multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, Amba Holly. Amba won the Best Māori Songwriter and Best Māori Female Solo Artist awards in the 2019 Waiata Māori Music Awards, and it was easy to see why.
Dr Parai broke ground to mark the beginning of the project, before bringing the formal proceedings to an end with a karakia and the blessing of the food.
A lovely morning, and a beautiful setting, made this a well-received event that gave the community yet another reason to feel proud to live in Porirua. Many at the event commented that it was good to see the Porirua Development partners speaking, and delivering, as one. We agree and it’s something we’ll look to do more of in the future as great milestones like this are reached.
We were honoured to partner with parkrun to put on this event. They had over 250 runners completing their last run in Bothamley Park before it closes so that the upgrade work can commence.