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Waiaroha – a showcase of water safety and learning – to open soon

Waiaroha progress

In just under a month the Waiaroha drinking water treatment and storage facility and discovery centre will be open to the public, revealing not only the inner workings of how safe water is delivered to households, but also highlighting the wider story of the importance of water to every aspect of our lives.

Waiaroha, situated in central Hastings, is the final major element of Hastings District Council’s Drinking Water Strategy to be completed. The strategy fulfilled Council’s commitment to making safe drinking water its number one priority, following the Havelock North Water Crisis in 2016.

As well as Waiaroha, the projects in the strategy included the building of a large storage and treatment facility in Frimley Park, a booster pump in Havelock North, a new five-kilometre pipeline laid between Hastings and Havelock North, and the upgrade of seven small community treatment and storage facilities.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said while the primary focus of the improved water facilities was to ensure Hastings’ drinking water was safe, Waiaroha took this a step further.

The discovery centre and landscaping enable people to understand the water cycle, from mountains to aquifer to sea; how it is treated, used and disposed of, and potentially inspire future water engineers who would come up with new and better ways to protect and manage water. The resources within the discovery centre have been designed to align with school curriculums.

“Waiaroha and the wider drinking water project arose from a terrible event that caused many to become very ill, and some families to lose loved ones,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.

“We learnt that we had to be more vigilant about caring for our water – that we needed to invest in it, to protect it and to better understand and appreciate it for the precious resource that it is.

“At Waiaroha, visitors can learn about how all three waters – drinking, stormwater and wastewater – are managed, distributed and disposed of.

“Working closely with Ngāti Kahungunu, the landscaping in particular reflects the mauri or life force of our water that flows from the mountains to the sea – that is stored in the aquifer at the heart of Heretaunga, feeding the three main rivers Ngaruroro, Tukituki and Tutaekuri – and being directed into our homes.

“We are hugely grateful to our mana whenua for sharing this kaupapa with our community, and working with us to ensure we can assist our residents on a journey that encourages the respect and protection of water.”

The last elements of the landscaping and fitting out of the discovery building at Waiaroha are being installed over the next few weeks. Outside, there’s been extensive planting, water is flowing through representations of rivers, streams and wetlands, and interactive panels have been installed.

Large fins adorn the water tanks that hold five million litres of water each, and the concrete exterior of the treatment plant has been etched with cultural designs created by local artists.

Inside the education building, resources are being created to provide diverse learning opportunities for visitors young and old.

“This is going to be a truly special space, both for our people and visitors to our district, and we can’t wait to get it open and invite people to enjoy this unique development – the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere,” Mrs Hazlehurst said.

While the site construction work will be completed, the water treatment plant will not be in operation and supplying treated water until it is fully commissioned, anticipated to be near the end of this year.

The facility will be officially blessed and opened on October 6, followed by community open days on October 7 and 8.

14 September 2023

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