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Masterton protests civic centre plans

More than 1000 people gathered on Saturday to protest the possibility of Masterton District Council replacing the existing recreational space, pools and War Memorial Stadium with a new civic centre.

Masterton Action Group co-chair Hewitt Harrison said the protest was an attempt to persuade Council to halt the project under their Long Term Plan.

“[It] has received an enormous amount of opposition,” he said.

Masterton has been without a civic centre since the closure of the council’s earthquake-prone town hall in 2016.


“The old town hall has to be demolished, it has to come down,” Harrison said.

“There is a perfectly valid site there with plenty of space.

“It’s a solid a site. The foundations are okay there and there’s plenty of parking.

“If they put the town hall, the civic center here, they’re going to have to create new parking facilities for it.

“And how do they do that? Well, they’ll probably close Dixon Street, which they haven’t admitted at this point in time.

“We’re saying the population of Masterton is not behind this.

“We want them to hold and allow the new council coming in, October, to review it, consult comprehensively with the community and make the choice, rather than have councillors half-against and half-for.

“How can you proceed with a $31 million project when you have half of your council who don’t want to do that?”

Masterton Ratepayers & Residents Association President David Farlow said Councillors in favour of protecting the recreational site received abuse.

“I remember very much the term dodo was used about one of them,” he said.

Councillor Gary Caffell was said it was great to see so many people at the protest.

“I think it shows the depth of feeling for what’s happening in Masterton at the moment over the civic centre,” he said.

“People are really engaged and I think when you look around at the numbers people are really getting united over it.”

“From a council [perspective], that’s something we really appreciate.”

Councillor Bex Johnson said the northern end of town had been important to the community for generations and the skatepark and pools were at risk.

“We need to keep this here,” she said.

Harrison said the majority view was there was only one site for a new civic centre: the existing town hall.

“We believe we can build a very good performing arts centre, which is what they first talked about in 2016 when the old town hall was condemned,” he said.

“They wanted the performing arts centre to replace that – that can be done.

“We’ve got a draft plan that shows that can be done for about $13.5m dollars.”

Despite some council members opposed to development of the existing recreational space, a Masterton District Council’s spokesperson said Council had “not yet received any proposals for the site”.


public interest journalism

Ellie Franco
Ellie Franco
Ellie Franco is Wairarapa’s Local Focus video journalist. She regularly covers in-depth stories on arts, culture, people, health, and the occasional pup.

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