By Hayley Gastmeier

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There will be no Saturday sleep-in for people wanting to celebrate Featherston’s new town centre.

South Wairarapa District Council has organised a blessing to officially open the Featherston Town Square.

But the early morning call of 7.30 is not sitting well with some ratepayers, who say it is an unrealistic time.

The council posted the ceremony details to Facebook, with the post attracting some negative comments.

It said the ceremony would also include a “short speech”.

Featherston resident Jim Curry said the hour of the opening was “a joke”, and he couldn’t understand why the project’s completion didn’t warrant more of a celebration.

“It’s such a tragedy,” he said.

“I’m sure when the Martinborough Town Hall [Waihinga Centre] is opened it will be considerably fancier than this.

“And the same with any project in Greytown, it would be celebrated.”

The Featherston development was initially due to be completed in February.

“It seems they [SWDC] are either embarrassed about the delay or the quality of the project,” Mr Curry said.

“It’s just an insult to the ratepayers of Featherston to have this thing almost in the dead of night.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples said the council would have preferred a dawn blessing, “but dawn was going to be just a bit too early for some people”.

“We are doing it as close to dawn as possible, and that’s because that is often what iwi do with regards to blessings of pieces of land.”

Paora Ammunson of Papawai Marae and Archdeacon May Croft would do the blessing.

Mrs Staples said the time was “not about making it difficult for people” and Saturday was generally a busy day for families with sport’s engagements.

“We thought we’d have it first thing . . . then people could go about their business.”

Because there were “mixed feelings in the town” about the project, SWDC had opted for a “modest opening”.

Mrs Staples said it had nothing to do with the budget.

“It’s election time and we didn’t want to be seen to be giving people platforms for electioneering so we have just kept it low-key.

“If the community after the election want to celebrate it more then I’m sure the new council will be happy to do that.”

Featherston Community Board chairwoman Lee Carter said SWDC could have been clearer in their announcement as to why the event was being held early.

“It should have been communicated right from the start so as to prevent this kind of angst from the public.”

Mrs Carter said there was a lot of community support for the project.

“People are wanting to go to it, but whether they can at that hour in the morning is another story.”

FCB member Garry Thomas said he thought 7.30am was a reasonable time for a public event.

“I don’t have a problem with it at all, I’ll be awake. They could have had it at dawn.

“People get up early for all sorts of reasons so I don’t see why they can’t get up early, it’s only 7.30, it’s not bloody day-break.”



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