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December 2004, Volume 15, Number 11
Real Kiwi Town
Fish and chips have proved their worth as a community planning attraction in the small town of Eketahuna...
More than 60 local residents turned out to take part in a fish and chip evening outlining the Our Town concept.
“We realised we needed to crank up interest and enthusiasm in local revitalisation and broaden out from the Mainsteet project we had been involved with,” says Eketahuna Mainstreet Incorporated Society chairman John Harman.
Our Town is a series of tools and procedures which help a community in developing and achieving its goals.
John says the Our Town concept involves seeing the wider community and its natural and developed resources as important in attracting and retaining visitors.
The public meeting, which was organised with support and advice from the Community Employment Group, hosted speakers on Our Town from Auckland and the community of Featherston (which is undertaking the concept).
“People had a chance to fill in forms about what they saw as our strengths and weaknesses.”
Replies were collated and condensed into a format presented at a second public meeting. Those who had expressed an interest in taking the concept forward formed a steering committee and work is beginning on a series of projects.
The first involves upgrading existing town signage and creating a new sign that reflects some of the town’s unique attributes.
John says that a large kiwi in the centre of town often attracts visitors who stop to take photographs, so a theme is to be established around a “real Kiwi town”.
A new sign in the shape of a kiwi will be erected two kilometres from town, with snippets about some of the local attractions such as the Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre and a local model railway.
Other attractions include walkways, hunting and bush.
“All these things help bring people into town and have spinoffs for everyone, including local homestays,” says John.
Middleton Model Railway owner Colin Fraser-Davies says that Eketahuna is “ripe for tourism development. People visiting our business often combine it with Eketahuna township, the National Wildlife Centre or the Pioneer Museum at Mount Bruce. Each attraction serves to increase the appeal of the district and makes it a more viable destination for trippers.”
CEG fieldworker Mike Grace says the wine trail route from Hawkes Bay to Wellington that passes through Eketahuna also offers opportunities for the town, which has demonstrated its ability to make things happen.
“Eketahuna is a community with true grit. It recently survived the potentially devasting impact of losing its petrol station by working together as a community and eventually raising sufficient capital to buy its own and secure the economic heart of the town.
“This is a truly impressive achievement for such a small community.”
Pictured: Children check out the Middleton Model Railway 9km south of Eketahuna at its official opening earlier this year.
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