Wellington Scoop

Waikanae fights back


by Norma McCallum
What will we talk about when it’s all over? The whole of our Waikanae town centre is a bomb site (only those of you who survived The War will know what I’m talking about). There are two Factions: the ‘Oh the Cost and the Mess’ group, and the Pollyanna group which I favour.

It is next to impossible to find your way to the chemist, and the traffic cones seem to be breeding. But who can resist the handsome young men in their orange safety vests and hard hats who seem to have set up camp in the coffee shops and, on fine days, have taken over the seats outside Mahara Gallery? Well, when you get to my age you take your pleasures where you find them.

Everyone is doing their best. As you do in times of crisis.

We pop into the tiny pop up library staffed by the indomitable women of the Kapiti Libraries. We brave the uneven paving awaiting all that smart new topping. And some of us smile at the young men. One of whom said to me one day that my words of optimism had made his day. “They all want us to go away. But it won’t be long.” Right. Smile on.


Waikanae has always been proud of its unique town square but, let’s be honest, it was looking more than a bit tired. So we’ve spent years consulting and now the time is here to get on with it. Business owners hadn’t really thought it through – the disruption, the safety fencing, the dust and boardwalks to get to shop doors. The general view that all would be lost. And now?

Yes. Now. Here we have the factions having a wonderful time in the gossip fests at any of our wonderful cafes. The boys (18 months to 80 pluses) love the diggers and the trucks. And Jay-er at the $2 shop has hung garlands on the safety fencing outside her store.

And where else would you say that your antedeluvian camera wouldn’t do the scene justice, only to have doughty librarian Deborah sweep outside with her 21st century one and take the photos for me.


So, if you fancy a trip to a warzone without the bullets, come to Waikanae. You can miss the traffic jams and try the train. You too can pretend you are orienteering as you negotiate the ever changing walkways in the square. Bring the boys, young and old, to admire our diggers.

The shops are still open. We are still here. Keep Calm and Carry on, Waikanae. I think the Pollyanna Faction is winning.


  1. Norma McCallum, 9. June 2019, 18:55

    Thanks, Wellington.Scoop, for letting everyone know we’re still here! Look forward to seeing visitors – and don’t forget our lovely little Museum is open Fridays-Sundays 1-4p.m. Cafe opposite, walk from the station.

  2. Brendan, 10. June 2019, 8:38

    Hopefully lots of car parking soon, so car park deprived folk of Wellington City can drive up to Waikanae for a nice convenient day of shopping.

  3. luke, 10. June 2019, 9:04

    Waikanae is turning into a giant carpark for everybody from Otaki using the trains.

  4. Russel C., 10. June 2019, 10:47

    That’s good news for the environment Luke as more people can drive to Paraparaumu station and park there. Well done GWRC for organising park and ride for Kapiti people but I would like to see a $3 a day charge introduced so rate-payers like me don’t have to pay regional rates for Kapiti/Horowhenua commuters having free car parking. Hey and compare and contrast with WCC’s unfriendly policies to car drivers.

  5. Dave B, 10. June 2019, 16:18

    The answer of course is to extend the commuter train service to Otaki, so people coming from there can get on there and not have to drive to Waikanae.

    In fact why stop there? Why not extend the service to Palmerston North, thereby providing a frequent electrified train service between the two major cities of the lower North Island and picking up Levin and Shannon in the process. Make the rail catchment as wide as possible. This would be a no-brainer for most other first-world countries.

  6. Norma McCallum, 10. June 2019, 16:18

    It would have been better all round if the train service had been continued, as it should have been, to Otaki (and maybe Levin.) There is a petition to lobby for this sensible solution.