Thank you for inviting me here today to the official opening of Whareroa Farm. First can I offer apologies on behalf of Hon Kate Wilkinson, Minister for Conservation, who is unable to attend today due to a prior engagement in the South Island.
This day has been a long time coming and I know that the Kapiti community in particular has been looking forward to this, but it has been worth the wait.
Thanks to Kapiti Coast District Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and NZTA. And thanks to contractors who have put in place tracks, the car park, information shelter and other infrastructure.
This partnership has also provided the Emerald Glen road extension to McKays crossing, allowing a safe crossing for the residents of Kaitawa in Paraparaumu onto SH1.
Thanks are due to the Whareroa Guardians Community Trust for working in partnership with the Kapiti Wellington Area of the Department of Conservation since 2009 to make the Farm ready for today’s opening.
More than 200 volunteers gave their time and energy to this project, including planting 30,000 native. Without the Guardians, coordinated by Ann Evans, we wouldn’t be here today.
Native forest remnants, extensive water courses and wetland areas are being restored here at Whareroa Farm. The Guardians and DOC are planning education projects to highlight cultural, historic and biodiversity value of the area.
Locals will tell you how precious this place is to them. It will continue to be a place to walk, picnic and explore, and to see farming and conservation working side-by-side. It’s great for kids to know where their food comes from.
It has new walking, mountain biking and horse-riding tracks, providing a link between the Akatarawa Forest to the east and Queen Elizabeth Park to the west.
Before Alexander Mackay began farming the land in the 1850s, Whareroa was important to Maori for cultivation and pa sites. During WWII the Farm was used as a training and recuperation camp for US marines.
There are many people who came before us who have lived and worked on this land, making it what it is today. Today we also pay tribute to them.
Today we’re here to celebrate Whareroa as public land - an asset on the Kapiti Coast that the community can be really proud of - especially as it is the community that have worked so hard to get it to this stage.
The Kapiti Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand and things seem to be happening in this part of the world.
Late in 2008 I turned the first sod on the rail extension to Waikanae, which is now up and running.
Of course we also have Air New Zealand flights from Paraparaumu beginning later this year, Transmission Gully and a new Expressway. This is an exciting time for our region.
I was watching the Royal Wedding last night and thinking about Prince William’s visit to Kapiti Island last year, when he released a kiwi into the wild. Next time he might bring Kate to Whareroa farm!
On behalf of the Government, congratulations to all those involved in organising this event and working over the years to prepare Whareroa Farm for future generations to enjoy.