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Eye-catching or eyesore?

RANI TIMOTI
Last updated 09:20 14/08/2014
Gumboot

KICKIN' IT: A corrugated iron gumboot made by Helensville sculptor Jeff Thomson is a popular talking point at Taihape.

Ohakune’s carrot.
Ohakune’s carrot.

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They're hard to miss.

A large kiwifruit at Te Puke; the stand-out carrot at Ohakune and a corrugated iron gumboot at Taihape are all landmark features welcoming visitors to the each of the three towns.

But should similar tactics be employed in the norwest?

The Rodney Local Board is seeking feedback about gateway features at the entrances of towns and villages and is compiling a schedule and budget.

But not all members are keen on the idea.

Thomas Grace questions the point of the project.

"Are we really going to pay to put a pretty sign at Parakai when most people know where they're going? We should have infrastructure instead."

Grace says the Helensville Lions Club has a welcome sign in the district and he'd rather see money for projects such as skateboard parks.

Chairwoman Brenda Steele says the board is currently going through a list of towns that have flagged interest in the gateway features since the initiative was mooted in 2013.

Helensville, Parakai, Kumeu Huapai and Riverhead are on a prioritised schedule backed by various community groups.

"It's for council to support those communities who want to do something," she says.

Funding has been set aside over the next few years in the current Long Term Plan but is subject to certain criteria.

Gateway features all need to be initiated by community groups.

"We're trying to attract people to our area and grow economically. There's no particular way in specifically identifying our communities. We need to brand and differentiate our townships," board member Phelan Pirrie says.

He says the project fits with the North West District and Warkworth Business Improvement District Partnership programmes' goals and most of the money is coming from communities.

He says Kaukapakapa is a good example of a community working on unique signage.

Board member John McLean is also pushing for funding to help Te Hana promote itself as the northern entry point to Auckland.

"Te Hana's cultural centre is like a small-scale Rotorua but you whiz past it so quickly; there should be movement to make it stand out.

"If we don't lend some support it could languish and fail."

What's in a sign, gateway or town mascot? Do they affect the way visitors perceive a place? Should the Rodney Local Board help fund them or are they a waste of money?

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- Norwest News

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