Town needs facelift
It's Broadway by name but not by nature.
The main street through Kaikohe needs a facelift, councillor Sally Macauley says.
"It is looking very, very tired," she says.
Broadway once had hanging baskets beautifying the strip but they cost $15,000 a year to maintain and were too expensive.
Ms Macauley says something new is needed to lure visitors.
"They were beautiful and they used to really lift the town."
It's simple, she says. If a town's main street looks good, people will stop and look around. If not they will carry on.
This is one of the ideas that she is working on with the Kaikohe Business Association to help the town reverse its fortunes to attract people and business to the former centre of the Far North.
Association members have brainstormed a list of possible improvements.
"Anybody who comes up with an idea, we will run with it," association chairman Mike Fitzgerald says.
It's a matter of prioritising and doing the things "we know that we can do".
"We just want to involve the townspeople a lot more."
The first priority is to get the main street to look nice again, he says.
He wants trees at the end of town and he would like to improve the cycle trail by identifying some of the flora that cyclists pass on the way up to Okaihau.
Main street is the obvious first step.
He also says a town manager, a position raised at the community board level in conjunction with Kaikohe's push for a Business Improvement District, could look at ways to attract businesses and co-ordinate strategies for the business community..
"The future of this town, will rely, in my opinion, on a lot of indigenous work," Mr Fitzgerald says.
He says the Ngapuhi heartland has a number of talented weavers, carvers and other artisans and artists who could become a greater part of the business community.
"We have to be proactive. Gone are the days when you can sit with your head in the sand and hope that something might happen," he says.
"And we don't want to be begging crumbs from the rich man's table – we want to be at the table."
Ms Macauley is organising an event called 1980s: The Way We Were to look back at when the town enjoyed a boom.
She expects many people will recall the days when the town was thriving. She remembers it well and was involved with a fashion retail store. But that was 30 years ago and she says it won't take 30 years to get to a positive future.
"I'm saying in the next 12 months."