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Paraparaumu's vision: bronze whales and a regenerated stream

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

A rendering of Wharemauku park featuring bronze sculpture installation, Whale Song.

A community park with a wharenui (meeting house), a forest nursery, a children’s playground and one of the largest bronze sculpture installations in the world is on the cards for Paraparaumu.

Seven life-sized bronze sculptures of humpback whales, called Whale Song, have been planned for Kāpiti Coast town for several years. But the early goal has evolved into the Kāpiti Regeneration Project – with members from Puketapu hapū ki Paraparaumu​ working with the people behind Whale Song, and the Kāpiti Coast District Council, to bring the park to life.

First, they are working on rehabilitating Wharemauku stream, which has flooding and stormwater problems, even without factoring in the rising population and more housing planned for the area.

For Takiri Cotterill​, a member of Puketapu hapū, said Wharemauku stream is the main artery of Paraparumu it needed to be regenerated as a priority.

Takiri Cotterill says Wharemauku stream goes through the heart of Paraparaumu. MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

“It goes through the heart of Paraparaumu and goes through our hearts. It’s time,” Cotterill said.

Marco Zeeman​, chairman of the Whale Song Trust and project lead, said everything was underpinned by Wharemauku stream.

“It is a big project and we have to think from the ground up so we need to make the stream more resilient and restore more of the wetlands that were once in the area,” Zeeman said.

Work needed to be done and the stream – which currently looked like a ditch in a paddock – needed to be more visible in the community, he said. His group had applied for the Government’s $1 billion Infrastructure Acceleration Fund.

He hoped the project would receive funding within three years.

A rendering of the Whale Song sculpture. This installation would have humpback whales that range in size, the largest likely to be 24-metres long and weighing 42 tonnes.

A forest nursery would help educate the community about native plants and their medicinal uses, while visitors to the wharenui would be able to learn about Kāpiti and take part in other cultural activities.

And Whale Song would be the jewel in the crown, Zeeman said.

The bronze whales, would range in size. The largest are likely to be 24-metres long and weight 42 tonnes. They would be placed on top of wind turbine-type foundations.

Project lead and chairman of Whale Song Trust, Marco Zeeman, pictured with models of the whales at the Whale Song Information Centre at Coastlands Shopping Mall. The models have been made with a 3D printer. MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

The Whale Song project had support from former Fair Go frontman Kevin Milne​, Story Inc's Steve La Hood​ and film editor Jamie Selkirk​, Zeeman said.

“I feel really good about the project. There’s a lot of processes and that’s always long but we’re building momentum,” he said. “I’m really excited for Kāpiti and the wider district to enjoy the park once it's up and running.”

Having a park, Whale Song and a wharenui together would make it easier to learn about Kāpiti’s story and Wellington’s story, Zeeman said.

The community park would have a wharenui and Wharemauku stream would be rehabilitated.

The artist behind Whale Song, Mike Fuller, said progress was being made when it came to the sculpture and they were looking for a foundry to make it. They were getting quotes from China and locally.

Fuller said he hoped that the sculpture would be an educational opportunity for people in which they could learn about whales, the environment and the history of whaling in Kāpiti.

“I’d like to see the park and the environment come together – the whales being part of that is the icing on the cake,” he said. “What it will do for this country is phenomenal.”


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