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CBD struggling

By Julie Iles and Geoff Vause

Queen Street needs to be “more interactive and much more fun for families” to attract shoppers, according to retailers.

They say free street parking might also encourage more shoppers to support local business as shops in the Masterton CBD continue to close.

Empty shopfronts are becoming a common sight in the street, with clothing store Pagani the most recent business that had shut down – or moved to places like Greytown.

The Masterton District Council is to spend $4.1 million redeveloping the area, and hopes that community engagement can help deliver a CBD that works better for the public and businesses.

Joseph Atkins runs the Iberia restaurant and said Queen Street lacked the interaction of main streets at other centres.

“It need not be big. It could be small things that attract families,” he said.

“It can be a struggle for retailers here with the location being either real busy, or dead quiet. There’s movies and shopping, but not much else.

“Having farmer’s markets on the outside edges works against Queen Street. We could bring these markets and other smaller events into the main street on Sundays, for example, and bring the street to life.

“The area is not big enough for lots of smaller events. The council needs to look at how to create larger groups by bringing events into the middle of Queen Street, make better use of the street,

Mr Atkins said an interactive online presence should also be considered, where social media played a part in lifting the use of the street in a positive way so business did not find it such a struggle.

“It doesn’t need to be,” he said.

A social media presence could also allow shopper feedback so retailers could respond, and the council could ensure more and better use of the street.

Deb Graham-Karaitiana owns Milady Fashion and Lingerie after closing the Milady lingerie shop next door.

“We just couldn’t afford to run the two stores so we consolidated,” said Ms Graham-Karaitiana said.

She said businesses had been moving to Greytown because it was a bigger tourist destination, attracting people for the experience as well as the shopping.

They often did not shop in Masterton as a result. If business did not improve, Milady may have to leave the area, something Ms Graham-Karaitiana said would be tragic.

“I don’t want to go to the likes of Greytown, I’m community minded and I love having a store in Masterton,” she said.

“We need people to support us, or if we’re not able to give them what they need then some feedback would be great.”

She said if the council offered free parking it would make Queen St a more appealing destination for shoppers.

Bearflag Books and Retro Collectibles owner Mark Rogers said larger retailers who offered free parking had an advantage.

“You’re really up against those bigger outfits who sell everything under one space. They’ve got all the car parking you could want, and they’re usually quite cheap,” said Mr Rogers.

He said he has been quite lucky with his store because there was an increasing market for sustainable consuming and buying things second-hand was eco-friendly.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said parking in the CBD would be “part and parcel” of new plans to revamp the Masterton CBD.

“We’ll never be a Greytown because the Greytown CBD is different . . . we’re never going to look like Greytown. What we will look like is what we want for Masterton for now and into the future,” she said.

The first meeting to discuss the upgrade attracted over 60 people.

Mrs Patterson acknowledged there had been a few gaps in the Masterton CBD recently.

“It’ll be council’s responsibility to ensure the infrastructure is in place to make the CBD attractive for people to want to shop there, and hopefully they’ll shop locally.”

Masterton District Council has committed 3.5 million dollars over the next two years, and $4.1 million total to redeveloping the space.

“It’s over 20 years since that sort of investment has been made and it’s quite timely that we do it again,” she said.

Mrs Patterson said the council did not have a preconceived plan about the CBD, and is working with urban designers and the community to hear feedback first.

“It’s really, really important that we not just act today, but we look into the future and ask, ‘what does a CBD need to be relevant?’ and that’s a conversation we need to have with our community, and that’s the feedback that we’re starting to get.”

Sue Bankier has been supported by people buying local for sixteen years. PHOTO/JULIE ILES
Sue Bankier has been supported by people buying local for sixteen years. PHOTO/JULIE ILES

Sue Bankier has had her business, Room 2 Room, on Queen Street for over 16 years.

“You just don’t see shops like this anymore because once they’re gone, you don’t get ones like this back.”

Ms Bankier said the larger chains she struggles against to stay in business do not offer what a smaller business does.

“Once the big boys come in you get the same-old, same-old, I like to provide something a bit different.”

“It’s not an easy business to be in, it gets harder and harder but as long as you support me I’ll be here.”


  1. Having just received an infringement notice 6 weeks after so called stand or Park the vehicle without reasonable consideration for other road users $60.00. on the 14th Nov 2016 Day of the Quake,
    Have been calling on Chemists in Masterton selling products to my clients for 20 years Never had a problem with parking before.Spending approx $200 every 6 – 8 weeks.You worry about the centre of the town dying,I am surprised any body would want to park there and certainly shall not be visiting Masterton again again.

  2. There are plenty of examples of towns that have condensed in NZ and throughout the UK. Even look at Kuripuni and how the development of this area is attracting vibrant shops, products and services.

    This issue has been going on for so long yet nothing has been done. Collect the ideas, draw up the concepts, look at what is feasible, and make it happen.

    Masterton is an awesome place with awesome people. Living standards have lifted and our shopping area needs to reflect that.

    I would shut off vehicle access from Hells pizza to Perry Street. Cobble stone it, improve parking, and have a kids park and water fountains through the middle. Food stalls/food markets (local food shops included), Friday night, Sat and Sun and encourage buskers or bands.

    Move more towards arts and get Aratoi outside! Cultural themes quarterly e.g. run an asian food/culture theme for a month.

    The town is old and dated and lacks heart. Cars hoon up and down there an parking is a nightmare. It is not a place I say to my kids “hey lets go for a walk into town”. A real shame because there are some great shops and cafes that need to be supported.

  3. Close off a section and make it into a mall. Think Napier CBD. A farmers market could be a good idea if it does not clash with other ones.
    And free parking Weekends. If Wgtn can offer free parking at weekends I ask why Masterton charge on Saturday mornings.
    Perhaps if shops opened longer on Saturday it may help too.

  4. Use need a mall of some sort has to have food court bring back a spacey parlour how bout a graffiti day I think they have like annual events so u go Regionals etc or you could bid for a nz v8 race to be held there or drift circuit

  5. I think we should look at market days to help cbd like the Sunday market could be on the main street and green dollars market cbd helping them selfs and the markets people can show of there hand made good it would be a partnership and grat for family

  6. Can we not do a little masterton fair have shops bring there products into the streets have the wbs bouncy castle set up for kids have the library come out into the library square in summers have an area for dogs to play, kids plastic playground thats covered, so many options just got to put them to action.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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