Otaraua Park’s development will enhance our community’s health and wellbeing by hosting a wide range of physical activities and sports, and by providing facilities, trails, playgrounds and spaces for nature-based passive recreation. Tracks for cycling, walking and horse riding, as well as areas for expos and festivals will be created.
A 20-year development plan, drafted in partnership with Council’s key partners - mana whenua Ātiawa Ki Whakarongotai and the Otaraua hapū, was adopted in 2018. The development plan will see the park built in a staged, affordable approach. Parts of the park may be funded by external sources such as sponsorship, lotteries and community grants.
The concept design of the sports pavilion and amenity block is complete, and the detailed design phase is underway (see gallery of images below).
The building will provide public toilet and change facilities, and a community sports club facility and event space.
The design was developed in collaboration with our mana whenua partners Ātiawa Ki Whakarongotai (Ātiawa) and the Otaraua Hapū, the Waikanae Football Club, and other community groups.
A needs assessment and feasibility study for the proposed multi-purpose track is being developed.
Otaraua Park is in Ōtaihanga, mid-way along the Kāpiti Coast. The 60ha park spreads across a river plain with an upper terraced area. The park is bound by the Waikanae River on its northern boundary and the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) railway line on its southern boundary. National grid electricity pylons cross the park. The park is not connected to drinking water, wastewater or storm water systems so innovative, sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions will be developed to manage water services.
- Sports fields for winter and summer sports
- A 3km multi-purpose track is proposed for road cycling, running, para-cycling and inline skating. The layout of the circuit will support events of various distances. It will be a nationally unique facility set within a natural park environment.
- A wheels training area will help children to develop their cycling skills.
- Main paved routes will be supplemented by other tracks and trails providing various ways to move through and around the park and connect to other local trails.
- The main track will widen in some areas to make it suitable for activities such as blokarting.
- Bridleways will link to existing trails, and the park will include areas for float parking and horse tie-up.
- Several nature-based play areas will be built.
- Artworks and story interpretation installations will be installed throughout the park.
- Two main buildings will form the core of the park’s facilities. The first building – a sports pavilion and amenities block – will be constructed in 2023. A larger, multi-purpose indoor sports hub is forecast to be built when there is a demand for it, expected to be in approximately 15 years.
- New roads will provide access to the park’s main facilities and the Waikanae River.
- A new main entry to the park via a bridge over the railway line from the old State Highway 1 is also proposed.
- Car parking, including parking for horse floats, will be designed to integrate into the environment with their planting and layout.
Otaraua Park will be developed to be sustainable and ecologically sympathetic:
- The remnant kohekohe forest and wetlands will be significantly restored to improve the habitat for birds and invertebrates, and a new wetland will be built.
- Extensive planting and restoration of the natural spaces and features will enhance the appearance and performance of the park. It will also help offset the environmental effects of the park developments.
- Sports areas and facilities will be developed to suit the characteristics of the site such as the risk of flooding and other natural features, eg the forest and riverbank.
- All facilities in Otaraua Park will be designed to be as energy efficient as possible. This includes incorporating energy generation, eg, solar panels, passive heating and cooling systems and energy-efficient lighting into facilities.
- The park will promote energy efficiency by providing charging points for e-bikes and e-vehicle, as well as plenty of parking for bicycles.
Council purchased 60 hectares of land for Otaraua Park in 2012 to create a multi-purpose, sustainable, regionally significant sport and recreation park which supports the district’s economic growth as well as its cultural and ecological identities.
The name Otaraua Park was gifted by the local Otaraua hapū of Te Ātiawa who whakapapa to the area.
The hapū originated in Waitara, in the Taranaki region. They take their name from a prominent pā site on the Waitara Valley. The Otaraua hapū migrated to Waikanae with other Te Ātiawa hapū in the ‘Heke Whirinui’ migration and by the early 1830s were firmly established in a large pā.
The 1830s was a tense time for Te Ātiawa and neighbouring iwi Ngāti Toarangatira and Ngāti Raukawa as the three iwi sought to secure their tribal boundaries and establish themselves as mana whenua. Two key battles occurred in this decade, Haowhenua in 1834 and Te Kuititanga in 1839, primarily between Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Raukawa, as they challenged each other’s hold on their respective pā.
Many paramount chiefs from Otaraua were involved in the initial attack of Ngāti Raukawa and subsequent defence of the Waikanae area. After a decade of tension and war, the tribal boundary between the two was established, and Waikanae was secured for the people of Te Ātiawa, establishing them as mana whenua and kaitiaki in the area.
The people of Otaraua were instrumental in securing Waikanae as a settlement for the people of Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai and the hapū were one of those that established kainga along the Waikanae River.
The name Otaraua gives expression to this whakapapa or genealogy and acknowledges the deep cultural and spiritual histories that are embedded in the whenua (land).
An 1892 survey shows most of the land in the area was in iwi ownership. Most of the park was covered in bush with a swamp to the west that drained through a waterway called Waimāhoe to the Waikanae River. It was later subdivided and sold. The remaining bush on the site is identified as an eco-site and has endured in some form throughout the site’s recorded history. More recently, the area was used as a racing thoroughbred horse stud, ‘Woodleigh Stud’, on the western lower section of the park and a turf farm for production of instant lawn on the upper river terrace.