Centennial Avenue memorial, 146 High St. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

In what must be one of the best responses to a Masterton District Council call for public views, more than 300 people responded to its ‘What’s our Welcome?’ survey in its first two weeks.

The questionnaire, open until the end of February, asks what should be changed about the town’s ‘gateways’ and what elements of the town should be celebrated.

The council is defining its gateways as “signage, flower bed displays or artworks that are the first things people see when they arrive”.

The project has been driven by chief executive Kath Ross, who moved to Masterton last year from Kaikohe and feels “you never quite know where the ‘entrance’ to town is”.

A council spokesperson said it was “thrilled” with the response to date, with feedback including the need for clearer or larger signage, more celebration of the town’s history and culture, something “clean and colourful”, and a move towards using edible plants rather than the traditional flowers.

A council decision not to plant flowers on a roundabout at the north end of town generated considerable comment last year.

“Some people have also indicated a desire for the welcome to stay as it is,” the spokesperson said.

The survey also asks people what they believe is Masterton’s best asset, with answers to date including the Golden Shears, Queen Elizabeth Park, recreation trails, Henley Lake, and the sense of community.

One Times-Age reader suggested an historic marker on High St, near the Copthorne Hotel, may have significance as an entrance point to the town.

The memorial was erected in 1940 to mark the centennial of foundation of New Zealand, with a twin at the northern end of the town, when the road was known as Centennial Ave.

It was originally placed at the South Belt intersection, but removed in 1976, after which it languished in a council yard until being returned to public view in 1990.

Wairarapa archivist Gareth Winter said the memorial was lost for a time, covered by foliage, until being revealed in 2007.

Three vouchers worth $100 are up for grabs for those completing the council’s survey.

People can fill the survey out online by visiting the “current consultations” page on the Masterton District Council website, or pick up a paper copy at any of the major supermarkets in Masterton, the council office, Masterton library or cafes around town.

The council will also be at the UCOL market day tomorrow and the Wairarapa Farmers Market on Saturday.