The Waiaroha Heretaunga Discovery Centre has taken four years to come to fruition, from idea to reality, and now it is officially open to the public.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst was joined by fellow HDC councillors, Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council councillors, Hira Huata and director of major capital projects at HDC Graeme Hansen and local Tukituki MP Anna Lorck, at the official opening on October 6.
Both Huata and Hansen were the driving forces behind the project.
Waiaroha is a water treatment and storage facility, designed to increase the safety, capacity, and resilience of Hastings’ largest urban water supply.
Hazlehurst spoke about our collective responsibility to look after the environment and caring for our drinking water supply.
She said on the back of the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in 2016, HDC was now leading the charge in drinking water treatment and telling the wider story of water.
“The water crisis was one of the most significant public health challenges faced by our council,” she said. “We have nikau palms planted at the facility in memory of those who died in the outbreak.”
Hazlehurst talked about the technologically advanced facility.
“From a bore field two streets over from the plant, the water is extracted from the aquifer and piped to the facility where it first goes through UV reactors to rid it of any protozoa and then is also chlorinated and fluoridated,” she said.
“It is then transported to the storage tanks after which it goes back through the plant before being pumped out to the city.”
The process is completely automated, the pumps operate at a level to suit demand and the smart technology means any issues can be fixed by the equipment itself or reported electronically to operating technicians.
“The water is treated 24/7, at levels determined by the water quality.”
Hansen said Waiaroha was about blending engineering, science and mātauranga (Māori knowledge).
“The hope is that it will be a catalyst for young minds and inspire the water engineers of the future who can build on what we are doing and find even better ways to look after and manage this precious resource.”
Architectural firm Wayfinder’s managing partner Shannon Bray said the whole project was about finding a way to connect people to the place they were in.
“There was a lot of engineering involved, but we also needed to tell the story.”
The treatment and distribution process for the water can be seen by the community, supported by extensive educational resources to help improve community understanding of water processes.
Bray said throughout the process both Hansen and Huata were consulted.
Huata, from Mangaroa Marae, spoke passionately about the care of water in the community.
“Our waters constantly die. We see hundreds of tuna die every year,” she said.
“Heretaunga was born of wetlands, and we have drained 98% of wetlands in Aotearoa. That’s our loss.”
She said it was “ironic” their whare was built on a river, but they couldn’t see it unless they dug underground.
“In Bridge Pa in 2009 we had no water – in springs, in houses, water was continually being drained out,” Huata said.
“We have managed to build this water storage facility as a result of people dying, but how are we going to protect and save this precious taonga – our aquifer?”
She called on Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to do more to protect our water.
“You need to monitor the water more. Twice a year is not good enough for our mana whenua.”
The Waiaroha Heretaunga Discovery Centre is located on the corner of Southampton St East and Hastings Street and is open 10-4, Monday to Saturday.
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