Penny’s Piece, March 2015

R_PennyGaylorOver the years I’ve heard local people commenting that they think Otaki is the poor cousin in the Kapiti Coast District. To be honest, I’m really not sure why people think there would be some systemic agenda within our district’s council to short-change any given community. Hand on heart, I have never come across an example where there was any covert or overt activities to cut Otaki out of its rightful share of services or voice at Council.

Ironically we have the reputation across council for having had a succession of trienniums where the Otaki Community Board was the strongest of all the Boards, and colleagues have joked about my parochial cheerleading for Otaki, and before me former Otaki ward councillor Ann Chapman was a fearless champion for Otaki at the council table.

No other community has its own Greater Otaki Project, which was developed a decade ago and been in place through the efforts and stewardship of the Otaki Community Board. No other community along the Kapiti Coast has its own local economic development group such as the Otaki Promotional Group which the Council has been the substantive financial contributor too, supporting the amazing volunteering that have brought us the iconic Kite Festival and other activities. No other community within Kapiti has secured a financial deal where NZTA and Council will contribute to the marketing of the town to counter the economic damage of the expressway.

Furthermore, we have a great library and service centre, meanwhile Waikanae waits patiently for its upgrade, we’ve had our covered 33 metre Otaki pool for how many years subsidised by the district ratepayers while the larger Paraparaumu and Waikanae communities went without.

We have the Energise Otaki Project; no one else does. Our health shuttle and surf club are backstopped by Council; the Otaki Museum receives the largest amount of financial support of all the museums in the district. And I’m working hard to make sure none of that changes, but I don’t agree we are the poor cousin; not by any intentional or unintentional acts of the Kapiti Coast District Council. For anyone who remains sceptical I invite you to attend our Otaki Community Board (the next meeting is on Tuesday 17 March at 7pm), or please attend a Council meeting and see the debates – they can be dull, they can also be pretty fiery, but you’ll never hear anyone disregard or disrespect Otaki.

But there is one exception, and that is I agree we are the poor cousin in regard to public transport. And although public transport is not the responsibility of a district council, KCDC puts in considerable effort and time to progress Otaki’s public transport woes with those who are responsible.

Saving the Capital Connection remains the top public transport issue for KCDC. That service is the only passenger train service that stops in Otaki and which connects us to Wellington.

The service is due to be chopped by the Government in June but local government organisations are working collaboratively to support the passengers seeking to convince NZTA to subsidise the service as they do for every other form of public transport in New Zealand.