Hawke’s Bay businesses played a vital role in the nearly $100 million investment to ensure Hastings District residents have safe drinking water. Just seven years on from the Havelock North water crisis in 2016,
Hastings District Council has delivered a major infrastructure project that includes two major water treatment stations, four large water storage tanks and seven small community drinking water set ups. Council could have stopped there but over a Friday night after work drink, project manager Graeme Hansen and landscape architect Shannon Bray of local firm Wayfinder pushed the boat out from a typical boring infrastructure project and sow the seed for a world-first Water Education Discovery facility.
Stunning carvings are a feature of Waiaroha Council was already part way through the project, which started when local 3 waters and civils business Drainways undertook a watermain upgrade in Havelock North, which was the start of de-commissioning the drinking water bores that were compromised and over 5000 people falling sick. As director of major projects at Hastings DC Graeme said that Friday night chat went well beyond the scope of a water infrastrcuture project.
The vision of Waiaroha was a desire to reframe our thinking about water, not only from an infrastructure sense, but also in a more holistic way. “If you reflect on our current approach to 3 waters, we don’t interact with it in any significant way other than to see it come out of a tap as drinking water, push the button on your toilet as waste water and to wash it down the drain as stormwater. “We spend little time reflecting on where it came from, what we do to it on its journey from source to end use, and of more significance, where we are going in this climate changing world.”
He says blending engineering, science and Matauranga māori principles created an opportunity to make water and the process of water more visible and to Tanks and the water treatment plant encourage reflection on where we have come from, sometimes looking back to move forward.
“What we have now is a state-of-the-art water processing and treatment facility but it will be interesting to see what state of the art looks like in 10, 20 and 50 years time. “I’m confident young minds and the next generation will surprise us in this area and this project is hoping to provide that catalyst and opportunity.
Graeme admits it was also a risk that was supported by council chief executive Nigel Bickle and elected members.
“Nigel’s support was unwavering support as was that of the mayor and councillors and especially with a vision that looked to challenge the norm and encourage lateral thinking about water.”
As an engineer Graeme had to open his eyes to water being more than it flowing from the tap and better understand the principles of Atuatanga, Rangatiritanga, Kaitiakitanga and Manaakitanga, which was led by Hira Huata.
Graeme says Hira provided guidance and accountability for this project as the principal cultural advisor, ensuring the Waiaroha values were fully embedded in the development of council’s thinking, through to the tangible elements of the centre.
It has been a journey of enlightenment and awareness raising to truly work on a project of co-design and testament to what can be achieved,” he says. Graeme said the many businesses involved, should be incredibly proud of what has been delivered.
“For those involved in imagining, designing, building and delivering the Waiaroha project, it’s important to reflect on the significance of what has been achieved and be proud of your role in it. “