Wellington Scoop

New design costing $6m to rebuild playground at Frank Kitts Park

FKP playground view from the park. Credit: Stantiall’s Studios.

News from WCC
A new design for the Frank Kitts playground has been revealed with construction to start on the waterfront site early next year.

The $6 million new design and upgrade will be a destination playground – a large scale play area with bespoke equipment, a nautical/coastal theme fitting for the waterfront site, and an accessible space for kids of all ages and abilities.

Councillor Jill Day, Chair of the Social, Cultural and Economic committee, says the new playground will be worth the wait.

“This playground has been a long time coming, so we’re excited to see preparation work about to start on what will become a wonderful experience and memory for thousands of Wellingtonians – and visitors to Pōneke.

“Some people were disappointed by the removal of the slide and the decommissioning of the lighthouse, but the new one will be just as large, fun and entertaining – just safer and more suitable for tamariki of all ages.”

The refresh on the city’s playground matches the Council’s vision for Wellington 2040, to make Wellington an inclusive, sustainable and creative capital for people to live, work and play, says Play Spaces Specialist Matthew Beres.

“With the redesign, we’ve integrated active, imaginative and cognitive play opportunities across terraced play spaces stepping up from the harbour edge. The terraced spaces will provide a variety of play experiences, some of which are specifically designed for different age groups.

“The northern edge is framed by the waka play deck, and at the eastern end an abstracted tug bow separates the playground from the waterfront promenade.

“We have worked the design around many of the Pōhutakawa trees so they can remain, while others were transplanted to different spots in the park in November to make space. One of these trees will be transplanted back into the playground to provide shade.”

Some other features include:

  • 5 swings, including a basket swing; mirage swing; toddler swing and two standard swings
  • A new lighthouse, positioned to the western side of the playground
  • A dual flying fox

Works are due to start Monday 10 January with the new playground expected to be open in October.

The decommissioned lighthouse will be salvaged, diverting most materials from the landfill. The domed roof will be refurbished and reused on the new lighthouse along with the seagull. The chrome seashells and telescopes will be salvaged, refurbished and reused in the new playground.

The lighthouse body has been sold and the removal, relocation, and associated costs will be paid by the new owner – and a donation of $2,500 will be made to a charity.

There are 107 playgrounds across Wellington City, ranging in size and play equipment – lots of options and always one near you.

The upgrade to Frank Kitts Park playground follows other recent projects in the region. The play areas at Pembroke Road, Pukehuia Park, Karori Park, Wall Park, Khandallah Library, Cummings Park, Kekerenga Street and Matairangi nature trail extension have all received a fresh face within the last two years.

The renewals at Elizabeth Street in Mount Victoria, Nuku Street in Strathmore and Shorland Park stage one in Island Bay will be open in time for Christmas.

The play areas at Pirie Street in Mount Victoria, Waipapa in Hataitai, Breaker Bay, Harrison Street in Brooklyn, Chelsea Street in Miramar, Wadestown, Newtown Park, Helston Road and Ōwhiro Bay are due for renewal, with feedback being collated following a consultation process.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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  1. Peter, 24. December 2021, 13:58

    I’m sure all will enjoy the “integrated active, imaginative and cognitive play opportunities” – suppose just saying “we are building a cool playground” doesn’t seem exciting enough.

  2. Traveller, 24. December 2021, 14:02

    There’s more. “It will become a wonderful memory for thousands…” and it “matches the council’s vision to make Wellington inclusive, sustainable and creative.” The $6m playground has a lot to live up to.

  3. Mickey Mouse, 24. December 2021, 15:29

    Is there something wrong with my memory? Was there not a different design before? What happened to that? What was wrong with the present playground and a bit of maintenance and an upgrade? Oh I know. They demolished the slide (children always break their legs on slides) and punished some trees, so now they have to have a new playground??? But why?

  4. Epic Trails, 24. December 2021, 17:42

    The merry-go-round will die quickly and be replaced by a single spinning pole (as they did at Ridgway Park) and any challenging stuff will be left out and kids will be directed to Fergs (Harrison St playground redevelopment. Kids wanting monkey bars can go use the school equipment).

  5. Alan, 25. December 2021, 6:36

    One thing the Council forgot to tell us was its new Maori name.

  6. aom, 25. December 2021, 8:36

    Staff at the Hutt Council have delivered a far better product at Avalon that is both child and adult friendly. It also seems a much larger (and still developing) playground has not been as expensive as the proposed FKP one – what a surprise. The most positive accomplishment is that it seems a step up from the earlier Wraight design. That plan appeared when the Council decided that a Chinese garden to acknowledge the arrival of Nationalist China refugees from Mao’s ‘Long March’ was a good idea. Ironic that the garden is partially dependent on assistance from ‘…Xiamen and Beijing in China and from other Chinese cities associated with Wellington’ – Communist China! (Quote from NZ China Friendly Society 12 March 2017.)

  7. Ray Chung, 27. December 2021, 15:10

    Why is this refurbishment costing so much money? Seems like it could be done for a lot less? Is the council PR company charging a fortune to write this gobbledygook?

  8. Keith Flinders, 28. December 2021, 6:55

    aom: You cited a quote from the NZ China Friendly Society dated 12 March 2017 which is out by 80 years or so. The Wellington Chinese Garden to be constructed at FKP is to commemorate those from China who settled here from the mid 1800s, rather than Nationalist Chinese refugees from the late 1940s. From the Wellington Chinese Garden Society Inc. website:

    In 1869, a tea garden to be built in Ohiro Road by “some natives of the Flowery Land” was mentioned in the Australian – New Zealand Gazette (24 Jul 1869), showing that Wellington has been home to Chinese people for nearly 150 years. Indeed, there are long-established Chinese families in the city who are 6th or 7th generation New Zealanders. The history of this community is integral to the history of Wellington – a people who made significant contributions to the development and prosperity of the city and the country. The Chinese community celebrates this connection with the building of a Chinese garden as a tangible expression of their presence.

  9. aom, 28. December 2021, 17:27

    Except, Keith, the basic premise for the Chinese Garden was that it needed to be on the waterfront because FKP is closest to where the Chinese immigrants landed. This was amplified by one of the Garden Society representatives at the hearing in the Amora Hotel. He referred to families that arrived post WWII. There was even an unresolved discussion between him and the Commissioner over where they landed on the waterfront.
    It may be an incorrect assumption, but weren’t the early settlers miners who would not have landed in Wellington anyway, but closer to the goldfields? I always understood that the bulk of the first Chinese settlers came to Wellington after leaving the goldfields.

  10. Ray Chung, 28. December 2021, 21:53

    AOM and Keith; it’s my understanding (and I’m not a member of the Chinese Garden Society nor have I been involved in it so I’m happy to be corrected) that this garden depicts the journey of all immigrant communities who come to New Zealand and settle. The journey through the garden tells the story of the arrival, the recollections of a culture left behind and becoming New Zealanders by their incorporation as part of the garden. They walk through the garden finally arriving at the end where they have views of Wellington Harbour showing their arrival. Wellington was the main port of entry for the Chinese in the late 19th century and early 20th century and in fact, my own grandfather arrived here in Wellington in 1892 so that’s why having this garden in the waterfront has a symbolic meaning.

  11. Nora, 28. December 2021, 21:59

    Yes the Chinese goldminers arrived in Central Otago and I understand the boats they arrived on in Wellington were mainly at the Petone wharf and hence the market gardeners in this area.

  12. aom, 29. December 2021, 12:08

    Out of interest Ray, did your grandfather arrive in Wellington near FKP by boat with a significant group of migrants from China? Your understanding that the garden tells the recollections of all migrant communities sounds like a spin to justify the ‘theft’ of part of Wellington’s open space at FKP. If it genuinely celebrated the landing point of early migrants, it should be at Petone, as is the Settlers Museum that commemorates the earliest settler migration. All of us are of migrant stock, tangata whenua included. No other ethnicity has laid claim to a significant chunk of FKP as a memorial.

  13. Penelope, 29. December 2021, 14:04

    The Chinese came here under very different circumstances from my refugee parents. We are not claiming a large piece of the Waterfront.
    Why would we? The Waterfront and green open space should belong to everyone.
    Ray since when do the Chinese purport to represent all migrant and refugee communities to Aotearoa and Poneke?

  14. Keith Flinders, 29. December 2021, 14:13

    aom: The Chinese Garden project has been ongoing for over 20 years and one has to admire the tenacity of those who have kept it alive. It was not this group who demanded that the garden be sited on FKP, but the WCC who offered the current proposed location. As I recall the initial location was to be within Waitangi Park on its Cable Street side, but the WCC changed its mind wanting to reserve that area for future buildings.

    Next the garden was to be sited atop of a planned car parking building proposed to the east of Te Papa, but that building did not proceed leaving the WCC to decide on the FKP site. Both the Te Papa site and the Waitangi Park one the Wellington Chinese Garden Society were in agreement with.

    As I understand it, to be able to view the sea is part of the Chinese Garden design, but this does not mean that it has to be immediately adjacent to the foreshore where the immigrants first set foot. Many of the early Chinese who settled in Wellington came here directly, not via the goldfields in South Island. The die is now cast after more than 20 years of wrangling and legal challenges, meaning the construction of the Chinese Garden will commence. This in spite many wishing that it was located at other than FKP.

  15. J Chris Horne, 29. December 2021, 21:58

    Frank Kitts Park is public open space, a treasured feature of our waterfront. All parts of it must be accessible 24 hours per day, all year round. FKP is an increasingly popular feature of our waterfront, the more so as Te Aro’s population rises steadily. A Chinese Garden, wherever it is built, must be locked over-night. Thus FKP is not an appropriate place to build a facility which is closed from dusk until dawn.
    Let us all work to find a fitting place to build the Chinese Garden, perhaps near the Petone Settlers’ Museum on Petone’s foreshore, as aom suggests (29 December). Then we would have two sister facilities honouring the region’s early arrivals.

  16. aom, 30. December 2021, 9:37

    Keith: Thank you for your informative contribution. However, can you source the evidence of your statement “Many of the early Chinese who settled in Wellington came here directly …” My on-line searches have not been fruitful in establishing whether there was direct Chinese immigration to Wellington prior to and around the turn of the 19th century.

  17. Keith Flinders, 30. December 2021, 19:58

    aom: I don’t have definitive numbers that I can give to you, but my contacts within the Wellington Chinese community have a wealth of historical information relating to their families. If you get access to the poll tax records they may give you an idea of who arrived and when in Wellington. And the National Library has information you can access.

  18. Ray Chung, 30. December 2021, 21:49

    Penelope: it seems to me that whenever groups of immigrants came to New Zealand, many of them banded together to have something to celebrate their new homeland such as the Polish Centre in Newtown. This garden I believe isn’t speaking for any group but as I said, is depicting the journey of immigrants to Wellington. I don’t claim to have any knowledge about how refugees came to Wellington.
    AOM: Keith has answered your question about how this site was offered by the WCC, not claimed by any group. I don’t know where my grandfather arrived.
    Chris Horne; I’ve been told that it’s the WCC who suggested that this garden be locked at night to avoid graffiti and unsociable elements gathering there but it was only a suggestion and won’t be decided until the garden is built. There are no gates on the design that I saw many years ago. Perhaps security cameras could be installed.

  19. aom, 31. December 2021, 18:14

    Keith, perhaps you could invite your contacts to give something less nebulous than you have provided. The link you provided does not support your contention. I had hoped to get some results by accessing the Council’s cemetery, using the ten most common Chinese last names, but that was fruitless.

    Ray, the Polish Society example isn’t even a red herring. There are numerous ethnic associations with their own facilities but none are on FKP and they are generally self-funded. What was your point? Why would a Shetland Islander for example, want to be represented by a Chinese Garden?
    City Shaper may have offered an alternative venue at FKP but the Chinese Garden Society had requested a waterfront site, then fought tooth and nail to have the FKP site, despite knowing that the choice was unpopular. You must be one of the few people who has no clue about when your forbears arrived in the country. Under the circumstances, it seems somewhat ironic that you make such a strong claim to have a cultural edifice on such a premium site when, in your case, Petone is probably more relevant for an 1892 arrival.

  20. Toni, 31. December 2021, 19:42

    Why is it that WCC should even consider allowing any form of building on existing precious open green spaces in the inner-city, with its abysmal and serious lack of green spaces. It is a travesty. Just imagine what London and other big cities would look like without their multitude of green parks if their councils had also bowed to pressure every time a consortium thought it their right to build on a public green space.

  21. Ray Chung, 31. December 2021, 22:12

    AOM; In answering Penelope, I said the garden depicts all immigrants who came to Wellington, not that it purports to represent all groups. I gave the Polish Society as an example of immigrant groups as I have friends in this society. This garden doesn’t speak for any of these groups. I’ve been assured that this garden is self-funding and is not requesting any public funding from the WCC or central government. If you’re interested in ascertaining how it was offered space on the waterfront, I’d suggest that you research this instead of making assertions that the garden society made any claim to this location. I did state that my grandfather came to Wellington in 1892 and I resent you saying that I don’t have a clue about when he arrived here! I have a personal opinion on locating a garden on this site but as I stated earlier, I’m not part of the garden society and had no say in the location but my understanding is that over 20 years, this subject has been debated ad nauseam, argued and won through the Environment Court and following this, won an appeal.

  22. Ray Chung, 31. December 2021, 22:31

    Toni; for the answer to this question, you need to ask the councillors who voted for this. Why don’t you look at which councillors voted for these buildings including the Fale Malae and most recently for the building on the Michael Fowler site and decide whether you want to want to vote for them next October.

  23. Penelope, 1. January 2022, 10:59

    Ray how does the garden depict all immigrants who came to Wellington. It won’t. Nobody consulted my immigrant family who were refugees, not immigrants. Do they count? They did come! I am proof of that fact!

  24. Keith Flinders, 1. January 2022, 11:30

    aom: A challenge for you would be to follow up on those resources and provide a paper to add the rich tapestry that was Wellington’s past. There are tens of thousands of untold accounts as well as anecdotes buried in old newspapers and official records (for all those who settled here) waiting to be collated, then recorded where they can be found at venues such as Google and Wikipedia, etc..

    The Wellington Chinese Garden is a gift to all Wellingtonians and visitors to enjoy, not just for the Wellington Chinese community. One could debate the FKP siting, but it would be an exercise in futility at this late stage. The WCC made the decision, the planning commenced, then legal arguments were presented but they failed to change the course of the project.

  25. Ray Chung, 1. January 2022, 13:49

    Penelope; I’m obviously not communicating this very well. What I mean by all immigrants is inclusive of everyone who immigrated to New Zealand. Are refugees classified as immigrants? I would have thought so but you obviously see some distinction between the two. It can be argued that everyone living here can be considered an immigrant. Should we call the first people who came here settlers? Are settlers immigrants? Would we be more inclusive if we had a human Noah’s Ark and had two of every species? All I can say is wherever you came from, you’re very welcome.

  26. Nemo, 1. January 2022, 14:46

    There’s only really one logical place for a Chinese Garden in Wellington and that’s in Chinatown. Yes, we do have a Chinatown, and yes, the Council has just purchased some land for a park at the corner of Taranaki and Frederick St at the edge of that very Chinatown, so there is a site ready and willing and able. Seems entirely logical – just do it! Continues on with the historical connection to the land where many Chinese people lived, worked, ate, ran businesses, had children, etc. Surely that history should not be discarded but instead embraced and made a central point.

  27. Polly, 1. January 2022, 16:47

    As a pupil of Wellington Technical College, I had several Chinese school friends and Frederick and Haining Streets were their territory.

  28. aom, 1. January 2022, 17:29

    Keith, that is a strange twist. Why is it up to someone else to prove your point? Not being or speaking Chinese is an obvious research killer, especially when most of the early reporting is Eurocentric and racist. Besides, my ‘ethnic histories’ in Wellington have been well researched and recorded back to 1840 on one side and 1930s on the other, so why should I want to go cultural shoplifting.
    Secondly, how is the Chinese Garden a gift when ratepayers are providing funding and gifting an immeasurably valuable green space?

    Nemo, your very sensible solution has been floated before. From memory the ‘logical’ site didn’t fit the demand of having it by the harbour. That requirement also seems strange considering the land mass of China. Do they not have gardens if there is no harbour or waterway?

  29. Nemo, 2. January 2022, 9:02

    Most gardens in China are nowhere near a harbour, but all would feature some aspect of water – usually gently trickling from a stream or fountain. Chinese gardens are all about the feng shui aspects of balancing natural forces such as earth, fire and water, as well as the more nuanced aspects such as good health, prosperity, long life, and wealth. Therefore walls and enclosure and gateways through to meandering paths, complete with natural rocks and beautiful trees would also be a key driver for any Chinese Garden. All of these could be readily available for a garden at the corner of Frederick and Taranaki.

  30. Helene Ritchie, 2. January 2022, 13:01

    Nemo you and I seem to agree on much for our city. Ray Chung would probably agree with us too as this area was his childhood stamping ground. In 2019 I wrote an opinion piece in which I said:
    the proposed waterfront site has no connection with the Chinese community, upsets many people unnecessarily and is a long way from being started. If the garden was moved to a place of early Chinese settlement in Wellington, Frank Kitts Park could be saved from losing much of its sheltered open public space – it’s the only shaded public park on the waterfront, with an ampitheatre, trees of sufficient stature to provide shade, a loved children’s play area with trees to climb, green bumpy hillocks to roll down, open space for picnics, tried and true swings and a quirky lighthouse and other slides. There is a site that’s better, more appropriate, more interesting and more exciting, centred in the history of Chinese settlement and the history of Wellington, that would celebrate the stories of Chinese presence in Wellington, from early days to now. What better place than the site of the Chinese Mission Church in the heart of the Haining/Frederick Street precinct, where Chinese first settled coming north from the Goldfields in the South Island?
    Some of this land will now be taken up with apartments/ social housing but the Chinese Mission Church will be saved.

  31. Ray Chung, 2. January 2022, 16:11

    Hi Helene: as always, I value your input and sensible viewpoints. I did indeed grow up at 25 Jessie Street that is still standing and a wonderful home for a family who I’ve met. I can talk about all the buildings and businesses around this area and where I walked to primary school and college. I have wonderful memories of this area. My father had his herbalist shop at 110-112 Tory Street that is now a big block of apartments. When I read the article about the site of the Chinese Mission Church on Frederick Street being bought by the WCC, I did speak with the Chinese Garden Society about the suitability of this site. As mentioned, I’m not a member of this society so am unable to influence or speak on their behalf but if elected to council in October, I will do my utmost to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to all parties.

  32. nemo, 3. January 2022, 15:27

    It seems that the Chinese community perhaps has some reticence to be associated with the Frederick / Haining area as Wellington’s first Chinatown – but they should be happy and proud, as Ray Chung is, to be associated with this area in Te Aro. It is a vibrant and interesting part of town with a great history and many records of people and buildings – a decade ago, Lynette Shum wrote a very interesting book on the area and its considerable Chinese heritage.

    Yes, it used to be known for gambling and prostitution and smoking opium – but these are things that make it more interesting, not something to be ashamed of. The government has now effectively legalised Pakapoo (now called Lotto), prostitution is now fully legal (although possibly a profession dying out as there are few red lights on show these days), and getting smacked out of your head on opium is no longer seen as wicked – just a little dated, as the drug choice of today’s addicts appears to be crystal meth instead.

    What would be a wonderful positive move would be for the Chinese Garden Society to embrace that history and say: “This land is important to us and most relevant to us, and our people lived and died here for many years, and we recognise them with a garden that celebrates that early diversity, honours those that worked hard as well as those that were led astray, and we provide the garden for all people in New Zealand as a symbol of our commitment to NZ long term.”

  33. Keith Flinders, 3. January 2022, 18:06

    nemo: As I read your comments, you think it would be convenient to consign the Chinese Garden to an obscure site.

    Over 20 years ago, when the WCC accepted the offer of a Chinese Garden (I believe Helene was a WCC councillor at the time), the site at the corner of Frederick and Taranaki wasn’t available as it was then being used by the Murdoch family for their business. Even so, this site is NOT suitable for the garden design now set to be incorporated into FKP. The Frederick/Taranaki site was cold enough even in the summer when I worked in that area in the 1970/80s, but now made worse by the extra three levels added to the building on its northern boundary, and soon to have a 14 level building on its eastern boundary. The only sun it will ever see is mid summer in late afternoon/evening. For the rest of the year it will be a cold space no one wants to visit, and one wonders what the WCC were thinking in spending our money purchasing it for a park.

    It appears to me that some contributors here haven’t bothered to find out what the Chinese Garden is all about and its cultural aspects, so they might like to ask the Garden Society to elaborate. The connection with the sea is an important aspect of the design as it looks out to where the immigrants arrived from. As an immigrant myself in 1947, I arrived in Wellington landing somewhere near the present FKP.

    It seems to me that the NZ Chinese are doomed to being forever thought of as immigrants, even those now several generations down from the original settlers and born here. Do remnants of the European colonial attitudes still prevail in respect of the Chinese who they didn’t want here? Imposing first a Ten Pound poll tax, then raising it to One Hundred Pounds, a vast sum in those days and one which none of the other immigrants had levied upon them.

  34. nemo, 3. January 2022, 22:14

    Keith Flinders – I’m delighted to tell you that you are absolutely wrong, regarding the suitability of the site on Taranaki St. Far from being cold, it is in fact quite a warm sunny spot in the afternoon – although I agree it will be in shade in the morning. Contrast that with the site on FKP, which has tall buildings on its western side, just over the road, and so therefore will be in shade during the late afternoon. You win some, you lose some. I work in that area now, and find it quite warm, so perhaps your memory is feeling cold from the 40 years since you were there?

    Personally, I think that a Chinese Garden would be well suited for the site – clearly you do not. The 14-storey tower you refer to will be housing the homeless, and so if the park is not made to the highest standard, it will end up being a place where they will hang out during the day, or where neighbouring apartment owners will take their dogs to go to the toilet 5 times a day. That, I admit, I’m not looking forward to. But a well designed and beautifully planted Chinese walled garden – that would get my vote of approval. Perhaps then even you might pay a visit.

  35. Keith Flinders, 4. January 2022, 6:22

    aom: I am not asking anyone to prove my point, but if you do not agree with me then you are free to prove me wrong. My discussions with a noted historian on NZ Chinese matters is that most of the Chinese who settled in Wellington came directly from China, a very few via Australia, and perhaps a few of the gold miners may have migrated north from Otago but not substantiated by research yet. I could refer you to the researcher should you be interested.

    The area the Chinese Garden will occupy is not being given to that group, its use is to be open to all. The enabling work to allow the garden to be built is being funded by the WCC as landlord who have seized the opportunity to reconfigure FKP and in my opinion destroy much of that which could remain. The funding of the garden itself is a gift and the details can be seen at the Garden Society’s website.

  36. aom, 4. January 2022, 7:50

    Keith, suggesting that nemo and other contributors are ignorant of the concepts of Chinese Gardens is a bit strange. Perhaps you would care to check nemo’s credentials. Here is a startpoint. Also, it might be enlightening for you to read this, written by Duncan Campbell (very un-Chinese sounding but with Wraith/Athfied connections) who designed the proposed Wellington garden. I’m sure you will be interested in his reasoning for the proliferation of such gardens internationally over recent decades. This supports the earlier observation that the Communist regime was to part fund a Nationalist Chinese project.

    At least you seem to have accepted that the garden has no pre-Great March significance with the FKP siting, land that was reclaimed after the early migration. It is also strange to note that apart from the aspiring Councillor whose Chinese Garden credentials are pretty slim, there has been no input to this debate from the Chinese community or the Society. Has interest in the project died?

    Finally, you might put some FKP context around your comment regarding the imposition of racist taxes. In doing so, you might also consider it in the context of the pillage and land theft that was being inflicted on Tangata Whenua by the same colonialists around the same time.

    Now, about the proposed Fale……

  37. Helene Ritchie, 4. January 2022, 11:02

    I’m still with Nemo on this. Nothing Keith has said has changed my mind. The Frederick/ Haining St site is the most appropriate for the story/ies to be told…. and a modest garden to enjoy. Walled is better there too. The strengthened Chinese Mission Church adds to that as I have long thought (and written).
    The ‘Chinese Garden’ will be a great light rail stop on the way to the hospital and Island Bay.

    But hey, it’s hot and sunstroke affects the brain of some. Swimming time now.
    As for the fale without use, budget, connection, size etc parameters …there’s a better site than FKP..

  38. Claire, 4. January 2022, 12:29

    Helene: agree with you on the garden and history together on Haining / Frederick streets. The sun factor would make the difference.

  39. Ray Chung, 4. January 2022, 15:33

    AOM: I read the URL’s on your comments and I’m happy to read and consider all viewpoints including yours, but I do consider that you could offer the same courtesy to other writers. I responded to your earlier allegations and rebutted them but it seems now you’re more comfortable attacking me rather than the argument. I have never suggested that I have any Chinese Garden credentials and indeed, stated that I am not a member of the Garden Society.

  40. aom, 5. January 2022, 4:58

    Ray, I had decided to sign out on this debate. Too much time in earlier years was spent sitting through hearings, assessing the positions and arguments of ‘experts’ and observing the Quixotic futility of trying to ‘beat city hall’ with its deep pockets and ruthless legal representatives. Incidentally, this would have cost the ratepayer probably something north of a 5 or 6 digit sum. This preceded becoming immersed in the current on-line debate where opinions and reckons have been plentiful but evidence has been sparse. Hours have been spent in on-line research to find evidence of direct China-Wellington resettlement. Part of this was following the byways of another contributor only to end up in the same place – no evidence to support his contention. That was capped by his ‘I know a person ….’ argument. If the research exists, it should have been cited and referenced for all to consider.

    Searching for ‘old’ Chinese graves at Karori seeking inspiration was not productive, but of course, large numbers of the earliest Chinese migrants in NZ had their remains shipped back to be re-interred in China.

    Please note that you were rightly credited as the only Chinese voice in this debate, though you had acknowledged having no official skin in the game. Otherwise, you can be assured your contributions have been read and carefully considered, as some of the responses make clear.

  41. RJ, 7. January 2022, 11:43

    As a 5th generation Chinese New Zealander, it’s disheartening to read the comments. It seems that despite multi-generational contributions to NZ culture there are still calls to marginalise Chinese Kiwis as ‘others’.
    The Chinese Garden is a place to be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. In context, it’s a small symbolic gesture in a city full of European inspired monuments. Most early Chinese in Wellington settled here directly from Southern China from 1895 onwards. Need ‘proof’? I suggest checking the NZ Archive’s ship manifests and poll tax receipts as I did when researching my ancestry.
    Although recognizing the past, most Chinese don’t want to be consigned to an association with prostitution and opium dens despite a western fascination of ‘the exotic east’. Market gardens flourished in Petone and the Hutt because it was flat arable land close to water and not because Chinese market gardeners landed there. Some of the commentary here has the undercurrent of a ‘stay in your place’ attitude. Why can’t the story of NZ Chinese culture be celebrated in the sun and enjoyed by all?

  42. Keith Flinders, 7. January 2022, 13:45

    nemo: In the 40 years since I was associated with the building that was then the BNZ Bank including a drive facility at its rear, now a Ramada Hotel, the effects of global warming along its southern boundary have obviously increased the temperature as you have observed, and commented on. However a view of the sea as incorporated into the plans for the Wellington Chinese Garden isn’t possible from the now vacant site adjacent.

    Helene: A tram stop in Taranaki Street near Vivian Street I will not live long enough to see. A decision on light rail has yet to be made, its route yet to be determined, and 2,456 public consultations are yet to be conducted by the regional council. In my estimation this takes us up to 2050 before the first section of track is ever placed, if it ever happens at all.

  43. Ray Chung, 7. January 2022, 14:07

    Thanks AOM, yes, I know full well what its like “battling” City Hall. I’m convinced that WCC are often dogmatic in their rulings and happily spend ratepayer’s money to push their objectives. I was talking with a builder who wanted to paint his building black and the WCC wouldn’t give him a Resource Consent because they said it didn’t comply with the District Plan so this was taken to the Environment Court where they ruled against the WCC. This cost the builder $700,000 in legal fees and the WCC would have paid an equivalent amount but the difference of course is that the WCC was using ratepayers’ money and I tend to think that this happens too often. Based on your earlier comments to Claire, are you happy with the performance of the council as you seem disillusioned that councillors can make any difference? Do you think the problem is the staff and their attitude towards consultations in resolving issues?

  44. Greenwelly, 7. January 2022, 14:39

    Ray, Its not just Wellington that doesn’t like Black paint. Auckland Council told a home owner that black paint would cause weatherboards to “cup and split” so they wouldn’t issue a code compliance. MBIE told the Auckland council to get knotted.

  45. Claire, 7. January 2022, 15:11

    Ray: I think my past comments and others, speak of widespread disapproval of the council. And they have a 17% approval rating. The handling of the DSP housing zoning says it all. Firstly it was cynically an enlarged area, ignoring Boffa Miskel and Heritage NZ. Then it was revised by planners – that was good and the report highlighted the many submissions. However, and here is the REAL problem, councillors ignored the planners and followed Politics.The flagging of democracy and common sense and the lack of experience was breathtaking. So in my opinion it’s the councillors at the moment. But I am sure the back office can also be improved.

  46. Ray Chung, 7. January 2022, 22:20

    Thanks Greenwelly and Claire, I notice that there’s a black three storey building in the Khandallah Village and personally, I think it looks terrible but guess someone in the council must have thought it was OK. Claire, yes, very good points. So considering the councillors’ inexperience, lack of common sense and their ideology of course, they still depend on accurate unbiased reports from the council staff so if these are biased towards a specific solution, that would require councillors to be able to see this and request further information but if they can’t see past their noses, then this is where the problem is.

  47. nemo, 8. January 2022, 6:41

    RJ – thanks for your contribution to this discussion, it’s really good to have your voice adding to Ray’s. Yes, I had a feeling that some Chinese “don’t want to be consigned to an association with prostitution and opium dens” as you say, by shunning a potential park site with this direct historical link. But I’m saddened and disappointed that this push to maintain this link may be being misinterpreted as an undercurrent of racism. Personally, I’m fascinated by history and the fact we have a part of the city with this history intact is a fact worth keeping and celebrating, in my eye, rather than covering up and forgetting. Adding more layers to that story, in its original place complete with its grimy back story, holds more sway rather than creating a new, untarnished, plastic view of history on a shiny new site elsewhere.

    From my point of view, the reason so many people are still uneasy about the proposal for the Chinese Garden on the waterfront is very simple, and very non-race based. Far from being “the undercurrent of a ‘stay in your place’ attitude” I believe it is just that at present the waterfront at FKP is open, and able to be used for many things, such as a park for large groups or small, or a running track or a rock concert, as a site for alternative medicines or alternative music, as a gathering place for exotic food wagons or as a park to simply sit in the sun and soak up some of Wellington’s changeable weather. The fact that it is open and unstructured allows it to be all of those things, rather than just some of them. Once you start dividing up the park into different areas that are static, and closed off, as a Chinese Garden will surely be, means that while it may be lovely, it will still be exclusionary when compared to the open slate it was before. It is the same reason that I am sure many people are uneasy about the proposal to divide off another area for a Samoan Fale – not racism against Pasifika, just a very real concern about the eating up of nearly all the open space by specialist functions, resulting in the destruction of that open, flexible palette for all.

    “Why can’t the story of NZ Chinese culture be celebrated in the sun and enjoyed by all?” It can, and it should. But in a city with a highly restricted amount of public space for all, there are serious misgivings that the site on Frank Kitts Park is a step towards the monopolisation of space for just one purpose, compared to the current phase of openness for all.

  48. Polly, 8. January 2022, 12:27

    Well said Nemo and absolutely agree with you. Not racism, just concern about the loss of all the open space on Frank Kitts Park. So many wonderful concerts and other events, not just the playground… and of course the wonderful views above the amphitheatre of the harbour and the shipping and yacht races.

  49. Nora, 9. January 2022, 11:55

    Having just seen again the monstrous new building going up on Site 9 on the waterfront, the more we Wellingtonians will have to fight to retain the remaining open green recreational and playground space on Frank Kitts Park.

  50. RJ, 9. January 2022, 12:51

    nemo – Thanks for your response. I enjoy reading your blog and understand where you are coming from as far as highlighting some of Wellington’s lesser celebrated history. If we take the cultural aspect out of the discussion, I also think it’s fair to debate the design of the garden at FKP without resorting to terms such as ‘theft’ (by another commenter). I basically agree with your points on maintaining flexible civic spaces. However I would argue that a good urban park contains both open and contemplative space. I could be mistaken but the new FKP design offers more contiguous greenspace than the current layout. If designed correctly, the walls can offer protection from the wind and traffic noise (and regrettably future rising sea levels) which potentially enhances the park’s usability. It’s unfortunate that it must be locked at all but if it remains well maintained I can see the garden being a local attraction in its own right.
    [Comments are now closed as our system has reached the maximum number that it can handle.]


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