Flaxmere Park Named NZ’s Active Park Of The Year
Hastings locals know what a gem Flaxmere Park is, and now it’s been recognised nationally as well – this week named New Zealand’s Active Park of the Year.
The 2020 New Zealand Parks Awards, run by Recreation Aotearoa, are in their second year this year, and three categories were under contention: Playground of the Year, Health Park of the Year and Active Park of the Year.
The judges were impressed with the huge range of opportunities for physical and social activity at Flaxmere Park, saying “every part of the park, from the cycleways to the splashpad, is constantly in use”.
Stop by Flaxmere Park on any given day and it’s obvious this park has something for everyone.
At weekends traditional sports are played on the marked sportsground and there is a traditional ki-o-rahi field (at the time of installation the first public field in New Zealand).
A nine-hole disc golf course is used for spontaneous and organised games, and every Saturday more than 100 parkrunners take advantage of the five-kilometre asphalt track, which is also used by anyone from solo runners to cyclists and walkers every day.
An outdoor events area with stage and power hosts a raft of community events, including Hawke’s Bay’s biggest Matariki Festival, and the park also boasts well-utilised adult exercise equipment, and a new playground that has children all over it all the time.
The news of the award brought a tear to the eye of Hastings District councillor and Hastings ambassador Henare O’Keefe, who said getting it to where it was now took ten years in the making.
“This park has brought our community together, they all come here, even in winter. It’s no ordinary park it goes deeper than that – it’s like a mother and father of our community.”
He paid tribute to council’s public spaces planning manager Rachel Stuart for her work on the development and also former HDC councillor Jacoby Poulain who also worked hard on bringing a vision to reality.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the award was fantastic news.
“This is a wonderful acknowledgement of the Flaxmere community who shared their ideas and their vision to help us develop our beautiful Flaxmere Park and create a space for everyone to enjoy. I love seeing our whānau making the most of our beautiful parks and I’m very proud of the joint effort that both our residents and our parks team have put into Flaxmere Park.”
The judges noted the strong community input into the development of Flaxmere Park. Two substantial consultations were held (the most recent ahead of an upgrade in 2019) followed by on-going conversations with the community, which were undoubtedly the driver behind the activity on the park.
“The park shows the power of engaging your community in planning and delivering the space, ultimately ending up with a park for all,” the judges said.
This national award adds to the three international Green Flag awards HDC holds for Flaxmere Park, Cornwall Park and Havelock North Village Green, which recognise and reward well-managed parks and green spaces.