LocalMatters       

Calling on the Coast can-do spirit

As summer fast approaches you might be forgiven for thinking things are back to normal. This year has been anything but, of course, and while some in our community have got through relatively unscathed, others have had their lives turned upside down

What's been uplifting, however, are the individuals and groups who've stepped up to help people out. In decades gone by this was a feature of life on the Coast. In the 1930s for instance neither the Depression nor its aftermath dampened community spirit any. The Whangaparāoa Hall was a regular venue for dances, socials held fortnightly during winter. They'd start by playing cards, usually 500, until about nine o'clock, break for supper, then dance away the evening until after midnight. Everyone brought something along to eat. A kerosene tin was boiled on an open fire to make tea, the smoke adding to the flavour. Life was tough but people at least had food – from farms, pukekos and wekas and a bountiful supply of fish.

Ninety years on it's a little more complex but it's still good to see people helping out, including parts of Auckland Council. Recently Watercare lifted restrictions for water cleaning businesses, made it easier to install rain tanks and offered a cheaper low pressure connection for Whangaparāoa tank owners during water shortages (HM October 14).

Elsewhere projects are going ahead even though council has been hit hard by the pandemic. The capital works programme for this year is $2.5 billion (up from $1.6 billion average). This will help employment, local economies and public facilities. We're also fortunate 2020 coincides with a large NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) works programme in our area. This includes the $700m Northern Corridor Improvements and $411m Penlink project. When NZTA start projects they generally don't muck around – witness the current motorway works due for completion in 2022 and primarily benefiting Coast and Bays residents.

Even Penlink is off to a good start – the first two kilometres from East Coast Road completed previously (HM July 1) and the environmental monitoring programme started, hopefully providing protection and mitigation along this stunning route wherever possible and enhancing the recreational walking and cycling experience in addition to commuting times.

Despite the uncertainty, then, there are positive things happening and if we can retain a little of the community spirit of our predecessors, we'll be the better for it.

Roll on the Coast summer!